Making National Security Decisions

Dates & Costs

June 16 - 17
9:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.

$1,600 (regular tuition)
$1,360 (before May 16)
$1,360 (McCourt School alumni)
$1,200 (McCourt School students)

NOTE: Course was cancelled for 2016.

Target Audience

This class is open to all participants regardless of sector or experience level.

Course Description

The process by which the United States formulates and implements national security policy is one that has continuously evolved. However, it is the evolution after World War II, accentuated by the National Security Act, Goldwater-Nichols, and federal legislation that resulted from the terrorist attacks on September 11th, that has most shaped the process that we see today.

In this two day seminar we will first examine the history of this evolution and then the process itself in detail. From the way the prime agencies (State, DoD, CIA, Justice, Treasury) interact, to the specific decision making meetings (Inter-Policy Committee, Deputies Committees, Principals Committee, National Security Council), we will examine who is involved in these decisions, how they are made (and not made) and how they are implemented.

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By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  1. Understand the Evolution of the National Security Decision-Making Framework

  2. Recognize the key positions, actors and role of Politicals, Bureaucrats, and Influencers in the Process

  3. Recognize underlying causes of conflict and consensus in NS Policy Decisions

  4. Understand the Specific Mechanics and Linear Process that Results in NS Policy Decisions

  5. Better Influence the Process as Appropriate


John Gossart is a 23 year veteran of military and government, most recently a deputy director of Special Operations and Counterterrorism Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, work that took him to various locations across Africa, Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and Europe.

He is currently Cofounder and Chief Operating Officer of GoodWorld, the FinTech Startup revolutionizing philanthropy and financial transactions (One of Fast Company’s 2016 World’s Most Innovative Companies). Prior to GoodWorld, John was an original partner at RideScout, the transportation tech startup acquired by Daimler-Mercedes in 2014.

John graduated from Boston College and subsequently earned a Masters in Public Policy and Fiscal Management from the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, where continues to teach as an adjunct professor. John’s indie rock band StoneDriver ( released their debut album “Descent” in 2015 and in between work, teaching, and shows he lives a quiet life in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia with his wife, Lisa, and their four sons.


Students who complete this course will earn 1.2 continuing education units

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