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NSA Historical Figures

Frank Austin

2014 Hall of Honor Inductee

Frank Austin was commissioned in the Army Signal Corps in June 1942 and assigned to Arlington Hall Station, where he led a team of cryptanalysts. Mr. Austin converted to civilian status in 1946 and held senior positions in Communications Intelligence (COMINT) and Communications Security (COMSEC) at NSA and its predecessors.

As NSA Inspector General (IG) from 1965-1969, he earned the Agency's highest honor, the Exceptional Civilian Service Award. Two initiatives he undertook as IG reshaped NSA in very important ways.

As the IG in the late 1950s, Mr. Austin took charge of examining the ineffective Manual of U.S. SIGINT Operations (MUSSO). When findings revealed that the existing system could not be salvaged, he recommended an entirely new system, now known as USSIDs (U.S. Signals Intelligence Directives). The extraordinarily effective system is still used today, more than half a century later.

In the 1960s, Mr. Austin recognized the disparity between career advancement of African Americans versus that of white NSA employees and launched an investigation. At his recommendation, the NSA Director established the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity. Mr. Austin's efforts to ensure minorities received equal treatment at NSA helped change the Agency's culture into the 21st century.

As Commandant of the National Cryptologic School, Mr. Austin improved the curriculum, turned a routine class into a flagship course for management education, and established two NSA professional journals to stimulate innovation and idea sharing. He retired from NSA while Commandant in 1972.