Federal Protective Service moves out of immigration bureau

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano says move will improve efficiency. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano says move will improve efficiency. Roger L. Wollenberg/Landov

The embattled Federal Protective Service, which is responsible for guarding government buildings, has been transferred from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau to the National Protection and Programs Directorate. It is still part of the Homeland Security Department.

In announcing the transfer, DHS said the move will streamline decision-making and align the security of federal buildings with the department's broader critical infrastructure protection mission. No changes in mission, workforce or employment are expected, according to Homeland Security.

"Securing government facilities is a vital aspect of DHS' critical infrastructure protection mission," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. "Transferring FPS to NPPD will enhance oversight and efficiency while maximizing the department's overall effectiveness in protecting federal buildings across the country."

In its fiscal 2010 budget request, the White House recommended the transfer of FPS, and Homeland Security's spending bill -- signed into law on Oct. 28 -- included the provision.

When Homeland Security was created in 2002, FPS was reassigned from the General Services Administration to ICE, prompting criticism. In June 2008, after a series of scathing reports from the Government Accountability Office on FPS, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. called the move "lethal" and "perhaps fatal."

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, applauded the move as a good first step toward revitalizing the troubled agency. Thompson plans to hold a hearing in November on FPS.

The reorganization will allow both FPS and ICE to focus on their primary, and very distinct, missions. The National Protection and Programs Directorate will assist FPS in securing GSA-owned and leased facilities by performing building security assessments and deploying countermeasures to handle identified security risks. ICE will be better able to focus on "smart and effective enforcement of immigration and customs laws," according a statement from Homeland Security.

FPS and NPPD already have been working together on several initiatives, particularly the National Infrastructure Protection Plan and the creation of a governmentwide physical security policy.

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