Fed up with complaints about the Federal Protective Service, the Senate homeland panel unanimously approved legislation Wednesday to strengthen the DHS agency charged with protecting 9,000 federal buildings, The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe recounts. Two Senate homeland overseers have introduced an Aviation Security Innovation and Reform Act designed to, inter alia, boost TSA training as well as threat info sharing, WGMD 92.7 FM News notes. Devonia Smith accuses DHS’s Janet Napolitano in The Examiner of “rambling” and “contradicting herself” when asked on FOX News if the United States is included in a now-questioned Euro-terror alert.
July 30, 2009
PROBLEMS CONTINUE AT FEDERAL PROTECTIVE SERVICE
Human Capital, Communication Issues Widespread
WASHINGTON- A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report shows that the Federal Protective Service (FPS) lacks a comprehensive personnel management strategy and does not communicate effectively with the federal agencies it protects.
The report, “Federal Protective Service Should Improve Human Capital Planning and Better Communicate with Tenants” (GAO-09-749), was requested by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia Chairman Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, Ranking Member George Voinovich, R-Ohio, and several House members.
The report, made public Thursday, found that the FPS does not have a human capital plan to guide its current and future workforce planning efforts. GAO also found that the FPS does not collect centralized and standardized data on the knowledge, skills, or abilities of its employees, forcing its regional leadership to develop disparate systems and strategies for managing their employees. Additionally, GAO found a significant lack of communication between the FPS and its customers – federal agencies - with over 80 percent of its customers relying on other agencies for emergency law enforcement. The report also found widespread gaps in its client contact information.
“The Federal Protective Service faces serious challenges, as the Committee’s hearing earlier this month demonstrated,” Lieberman said. “But I am particularly alarmed by the GAO’s conclusions that the FPS lacks an effective hiring, training, and staff development process just weeks after the FPS Director told our Committee the agency needs additional personnel to protect federal buildings. I am also troubled by the FPS’ lack of a long term strategy to manage current and future workforce needs and its lack of a constructive relationship with the federal agency it protects. We will address these issues, and more, as we work on legislation to modernize the FPS.”
Collins said the report “gives us even more evidence of the urgent need to reform critical areas of this poorly performing agency.” Although the Committee staff has received multiple briefings, the Committee has yet to receive an internal FPS review outlining what immediate and long-term steps will be taken to rectify security lapses and to increase the safety of employees and visitors at federal buildings. The Committee expects this report shortly.
Collins and Lieberman have previously labeled the agency’s overall work a “security crisis” after learning that federal investigators had successfully smuggled bomb-making materials into 10 high-security federal buildings guarded by the FPS. The FPS protects 9,000 federal buildings around the country. At the time, Collins said Congress needed to “immediately remedy these very serious and alarming gaps in our security,” which she called “a pervasive, systemic problem.”
Akaka said: “Insufficient and uneven training have been cited repeatedly as a weakness of the Federal Protective Service. This report highlights the need for FPS to develop a strategic human capital plan that ensures a uniform approach to training and workforce planning across its 11 regions. In particular, the agency needs a plan because it has not been able to accurately assess its staffing needs, and DHS and Congress are left guessing during the budgeting process.”
“The ability of FPS to meet its mission has continued to deteriorate since its transfer to the Department of Homeland Security in 2003,” Voinovich said. “It seems that FPS has become a second-class citizen within the Department, at the expense of public security and employee morale. This GAO report paints a troubling picture of operational challenges, management problems and poor coordination inside and outside of FPS.
The report is part of a comprehensive review of the FPS that Lieberman, Collins, Akaka and Voinovich have asked the GAO to conduct. The first report, issued in June 2008, revealed several challenges that impeded the FPS’ ability to protect federal buildings. The Committee also held a July 8 hearing that focused on contract guard management.
September 29, 2010
COMMITTEE APPROVES BILL TO MODERNIZE, REFORM FEDERAL PROTECTIVE SERVICE
Legislation to Improve Government Efficiency Also Moves Forward
WASHINGTON— The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday agreed by unanimous voice vote to report out legislation to strengthen the security of visitors and employees at 9,000 federal buildings across the United States.
The Committee also reported out a measure to require federal agencies to set clear performance goals to be measured and reported to Congress, providing taxpayers additional ways to hold their government accountable.
“Our bipartisan bill will modernize and reform an important, but often overlooked agency at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Protective Service (FPS),” Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., said. “The FPS is responsible for the security of employees and visitors at 9,000 federal buildings across the country. But its mission is in peril due to budget shortfalls, mismanagement of the agency and its contract guard workforce, and multiple operational challenges. A series of reports from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the DHS Inspector General have found FPS to be a seriously dysfunctional agency that lacks focus or a strategy for accomplishing its mission.
“The people—not just employees, but millions of visitors—who enter federal buildings each year deserve better protection. Our bill provides that by ensuring that FPS has sufficient staff to carry out its mission, by tackling deficiencies within the contract guard program, by ensuring FPS is ready to take on the threat of explosives, and by striking a good balance between both public access and security.”
Collins said: “The current situation at FPS is a disaster waiting to happen. Independent investigations of FPS by the Government Accountability Office and Department of Homeland Security Inspector General have discovered pervasive security gaps, lax oversight, inadequate training, and systemic operational flaws. The findings were so alarming that the Chairman and I labeled the agency’s overall work a ‘security crisis.’” In one case, Collins said, GAO investigators were able to smuggle simulated bombs into 10 high-risk federal buildings, penetrating the security systems of all 10 buildings selected.
“The bipartisan legislation before us today is the solution to this security crisis,” she said.
The Supporting Employee Competency and Updating Readiness Enhancements for (SECURE) Facilities Act of 2010, S. 3806, was approved unanimously by voice vote as amended by a substitute amendment from Lieberman, Collins, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia Chairman Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, and Ranking Member George Voinovich, R-Ohio.
The Government Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Performance Improvement Act of 2010, H.R. 2142, was also approved by voice vote, as amended by a substitute amendment from Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management Chairman Tom Carper, D-Del., Lieberman, Collins, Akaka, and Voinovich.
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