White House updates interagency group tasked with protecting federal facilities
The Biden administration issued an executive order Monday updating the committee tasked with establishing security policies for installations across the federal government, now including best practices for a mobile workforce.
Under an executive order issued Monday, the White House is modernizing an interagency committee designed to evaluate and improve the security standards of federal facilities, by adding mobile workforce security practices under its purview.
The new order builds on the Clinton-era Interagency Security Committee order, or Executive Order 12977, crafted in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 to protect federal facilities.
That order was last modified in 2003, when it added the then newly created Homeland Security Secretary, who serves as chair.
The Interagency Security Committee will continue to evaluate the security standards at any federally owned or leased building, structure or the land it resides on and regularly occupied by federal employees or contractors for nonmilitary activities, but in a new addition will provide “best practices for securing a mobile federal workforce.”
Telework has become a contentious topic in 2023, as employees transition to the post-COVID era.
The Biden administration has been gradually pushing for federal employees to return to the office, with Chief of Staff Jeff Zients calling for an increase in in-person work in August, and the Office of Personnel Management requiring better data on telework usage in October.
A Senate bill introduced last month seeks to further codify federal employees’ use of remote work and its reporting requirements, but prior to passing their most recent continuing resolution, House Republicans proposed further reducing telework usage in their spending bills.
Resistance to federal employees’ has some consultants concerned about a potential talent crunch in 2024 or the dispute even evolving into a campaign issue in the election year.
According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s annual review of the Interagency Security Committee, released in March, the executive order updating the committee has been in the works since 2021, and the committee will publish its mobile federal workforce security best practices “using a multitude of experiences and lessons learned from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
The new executive order also calls for the committee to submit a biennial report on compliance to the OMB director and the National Security Adviser, that each agency designate a responsible for implementation and compliance of security standards and that the Homeland Security Secretary monitor agency security compliance at a minimum.
The committee consists of representatives from the departments of State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education and Veterans Affairs, alongside the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Management and Budget, the General Services Administration and the Office of the National Director of Intelligence.
The directors of the U.S. Marshals Service, the Federal Protective Service, the CIA, the FBI and the Office of Personnel Management also take part in the body.
The committee works on developing strategies to monitor implementation and agency compliance, but also encouraging the sharing of security intelligence, assessing information technology to improve security, developing a centralized security database for federal facilities, crafting best practices for mobile and teleworking employees, establishing construction standards for facilities with higher threat levels and evaluating standards and security for child care centers in federal facilities.