Federal Protective Service may cut hundreds of jobs

The Homeland Security Department office responsible for keeping federal facilities safe may need to cut hundreds of jobs to satisfy the requirements of the agency's fiscal 2008 budget.

Paul Durette, acting director of the Federal Protective Service, said in an e-mail to employees that "the target organization size to support the core mission going forward into [fiscal 2008] is 950 employees." He also discussed the changes in a conference call this week.

FPS, which guards and investigates threats against more than 8,800 federal facilities nationwide, currently has 1,223 full-time employees, according to agency sources. This means a cut of 273 positions would get the agency to the target size.

Employees whose jobs are eliminated may be offered opportunities elsewhere in FPS' parent agency, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau, and in DHS at large, according to Durette. They also may be offered voluntary retirement.

Durette said jobs will become available via fully reimbursable details within ICE and other DHS components, including ICE's Office of Detention and Removal and Office of Professional Responsibility. He said immigration enforcement agent positions will be announced competitively within ICE.

A regional FPS director tipped employees off in October 2006 about new detention and removal jobs through an e-mail later obtained by Government Executive. The director suggested employees "jump ship while the jumping is good."

ICE Secretary Julie Myers said earlier this week that she aims to add 37 new jobs to the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility if Congress approves President Bush's version of the fiscal 2008 budget.

Durette's e-mail hinted that lower-ranked officers who serve as police or guards will not be given as much priority when FPS decides who it will retain. "Achieving our goals will be dependent" on an "FPS workforce … primarily composed of inspectors who will have the dual capability to provide both law enforcement and physical security services." He said the agency will "retain a core group of criminal investigators dedicated to intelligence and investigative activities related to federal facilities."

He also said FPS plans on "strengthening our contract guard program," without elaborating on how that will happen, and limiting patrols "to only the highest risk major metropolitan areas." He said remaining officers will "be absorbed into other law enforcement functions within FPS or ICE."

Sources within the agency said FPS will seek to increase the fees it charges other agencies to guard their buildings by as much as 60 percent. That revenue increase, however, would be offset by the agency's need to address a budget shortfall and pay increasing contractor costs.

Union officials said they oppose the planned job cuts.

"This is a flawed plan that includes portions of past reorganization plans that have always failed," said David Wright, president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 981, which represents hundreds of FPS workers.

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