THE MAGAZINE

Officers at Federal Facilities Lack Training

By Megan Gates

However, the GAO said that the lack of training stems from the FPS’s lack of a comprehensive system for managing information on guards’ training, certifications, and qualifications, and affects not only active-shooter scenario training, but other training as well.

Officials from one of the FPS’s contract guard companies told the GAO that 133 of its approximately 350 guards have never received scanner training to properly use x-ray and magnetometer equipment. These pieces of equipment are used in many federal facilities to scan visitors’ belongings before they are allowed into the building. If guards aren’t properly trained to use the equipment, banned items—such as knives and firearms—could be brought into the building.

The GAO first brought this problem to the FPS’s attention in 2009 and 2010 when it reported that the FPS hadn’t provided screener training to 1,500 guards in one FPS region. “In response… FPS stated that it planned to implement a program to train its inspectors to provide screener training to all of its contract guards,” the report reads. “However, three years after our 2010 report, guards continue to be deployed to federal facilities who have never received this training.”

The FPS also told the GAO in response to earlier reports that it would develop a comprehensive and reliable system for managing information on guards’ training, certifications, and qualifications. However, the FPS still doesn’t have such a system, and 23 percent of the 276 guard files the GAO examined during its most recent investigation lacked required training and certification documentation. Some of the items missing from guards’ files were documentation of initial weap­ons and screener training and firearms qualifications.

In addition, the GAO reports that the FPS doesn’t use a methodology to assess risk at federal facilities that aligns with the Interagency Security Committee’s (ISC) risk assessment standards. The ISC’s standards require risk assessments to “consider all of the undesirable events identified by ISC as possible risks to federal facilities, and… assess the threat, vulnerability, and consequence of specific undesirable events.” Federal agencies pay the FPS millions of dollars to assess risk at their facilities, but its risk assessment tool is not consistent with ISC’s standards because it does not assess consequences, such as “the level, duration, and nature of loss resulting from undesirable events,” the report said.

As a result, the government probably lacks a complete understanding of the risks facing federal facilities located around the country, including the 9,600 protected by the FPS, the report states.

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