SAMMIES Finalist Innovating New Communication Paths for Classified Materials

Currently in the United States, there is more attention than ever on the safety and security of our Diplomatic Corps working around the world. Especially when working in politically unstable countries, our diplomats have the added challenge of rapidly responding to the changing circumstances in their environments.

For Shane Morris, Supervisor of the Diplomatic Courier Service with the Department of State, she has faced numerous challenges in transporting diplomatic pouches containing materials critical to national security, especially during the Arab Spring. Her innovation in overcoming these obstacles has led to her recognition as a 2012 SAMMIES finalist.

Speaking to Chris Dorobek of the DorobekINSIDER, Morris discussed some of the challenges inherent in her job. In ideal circumstances, “to put it in perspective, in the best of scenarios, what we would do is arrive at the airport with our pouches and then navigate through security without the pouches being tampered with or x-rayed. [We go] all the way to the tarmac, load the pouches into the belly of the aircraft, and then I would board the airplane.” As she told Dorobek, with today’s airport security it is already difficult to ensure pouches are not x-rayed, and having access to the tarmac isn’t typically permitted. Prior communication and coordination is necessary to maintain the security of the pouches.

As Morris mentioned, they rarely face the ideal circumstances in transporting diplomatic pouches. Especially in transporting materials to and from unstable locations, it’s necessary to think on your feet and have several contingency plans. She details an experience in the United Arab Emirates, discussing the transportation routes for materials. Once it was clear they would no longer have access to the Bahrain airport, she negotiated tarmac access through an airport in which the United States previously had never had access.

As one of the younger members of the Diplomatic Courier Service, Morris is a great example of a successful young public servant. She has always wanted to work for the Department of State, though initially she had never heard of the Courier Service. Her achievement is sure to be just the beginning of her accomplishments throughout her public service career.

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