Senate Bill Maps Reform of Federal Protective Service

The agency that provides security for thousands of government buildings is understaffed and badly managed, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman and others on the committee say.

Four members of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee introduced S. 3806 on Monday to reform the Federal Protective Service, a DHS agency that provides security for 9,000 federal buildings across the country. FPS says it employs 900 law enforcement security officers and 15,000 contract guards; the bill would provide funding for FPS to hire 500 additional full-time employees (it has 1,225 currently) during the next four years.

The bill, named the SECURE Facilities Act, was introduced by Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sens. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, and George Voinovich, R-Ohio.

At the panel's request, the Government Accountability Office issued eight reports about FPS between 2004 and 2010 citing inadequate training and oversight of guards, as well as outdated standards and manuals guiding guard behavior. GAO investigators tested the security service by bringing bomb-making materials through security at high-security facilities and wandering the halls, according to the committee.

The bill would require FPS to maintain testing programs to assess the training of guards and establish procedures for retraining or terminating ineffective ones. It would require DHS to set performance-based standards for checkpoint detection technologies for explosives and other threats at federal facilities, and it would allow FPS officers to carry firearms off duty.

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