DHS not properly protecting federal buildings, report finds

Federal Protective Service officers guard a blockade. Federal Protective Service officers guard a blockade. Damian Dovarganes/AP file photo

The Homeland Security Department’s Federal Protective Service is not doing an adequate job assessing and preparing for security risks at government workspaces, according to a new report.

The Government Accountability Office said FPS -- which has an annual budget of $1.3 billion to protect federal facilities -- is not using previously determined guidelines in evaluating risks, has allowed a backlog of assessments to pile up and is failing to properly oversee its contracted security guards.

GAO recommended FPS use the National Infrastructure Protection Plan -- which calls for inspectors to weigh the threats vulnerabilities, consequences and potential countermeasures of each federal facility -- as a framework for assessing buildings in the future.

The auditors also called for a more exhaustive security inspection process that includes across-facility comparisons to prioritize needs and that focus more on the consequences of an undesirable event. 

FPS contracts about 12,500 guards to secure federal facilities, however the agency does not independently screen applicants prior to employment, according to GAO.

“That FPS cannot ensure that its 33 contractors are providing accurate information on its guards is . . . problematic,” the auditors wrote in their report.

FPS’ shortcomings are costing the government, as many agencies are paying for their own security assessments, despite the fact they are already paying FPS for its services.

Jim Crumpacker, director of Homeland Security’s Departmental GAO-OIG Liaison Office, defended FPS in some instances, noting a lack of resources and authority to address all of GAO’s criticisms, but ultimately concurred with each of the auditor’s recommendations.  

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.