Federal Protective Service to offer employee buyouts

The Federal Protective Service will offer voluntary early retirement to employees as it struggles to adjust to a $42 million fiscal 2006 budget shortfall and right itself in fiscal 2007, according to a memorandum circulated among officials at the agency and its parent organization, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

FPS also is reviewing its practices for providing security services or contracting for them on behalf of federal agencies. The memorandum, sent by FPS Director Paul Durette, said more information would be forthcoming regarding "contract guard management processes and how we acquire these critical services." An ICE spokesman said the agency will not reduce the number of badge-carrying security personnel or discontinue its practice of contracting for security personnel at federal buildings nationwide. But a senior management official at FPS who asked not to be identified said officials were concerned about their ability to arrange security, given the agency's budget situation. "Let [the Department of] Agriculture get their own security," the official said. "We're not getting enough to pay security."

Durette said in the memorandum that the agency is trying "to ensure that we are capturing the full costs of providing security services" in the future.

The memorandum, dated Aug. 29, said the agency will assess "the best use and deployment of personnel and resources." It also said FPS needs to ensure it can "provide a law enforcement response to demonstrations and emergencies, and to investigate crimes against federal property and employees."

The memo said five GS-13 special investigators at FPS will be detailed to ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility to conduct internal investigations in Boston, Houston, Dallas, Denver and Detroit.

Durette stated in the memo that voluntary early retirements will be offered to some employees, though he did not specify how many.

"We have no way of predicting or estimating how many people will ultimately take" the early retirement offer, said ICE spokesman Ronald Boyd.

The Department of Homeland Security reported financial woes at FPS in late June, requesting the authority to transfer $42 million to the agency. After that request was rejected, FPS turned to private auditors for help in addressing its funding problems.

The memorandum stated that ICE Chief Financial Officer Debra Bond will continue to seek a resolution to the funding shortfall.

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