A Senate committee has unanimously passed legislation aimed at reforming the troubled Federal Protective Service (FPS), which is responsible for the security of 9,000 federal buildings around the country.
The bipartisan bill authored by members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, calls for FPS to hire 500 new full-time staff above its current 1,200, deploy controversial full-body scanners at three sites, and study the federalization of its 15,000-member contract guard force. The bill would also set strict training requirements for contract guards.
A multi-year investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has exposed gross mismanagement at FPS, inadequate training and supervision of contract guards, and critical security vulnerabilities. In the most publicized cases, an FPS contract guard ran an infant in a baby carrier through a belt-fed x-ray machine at a security checkpoint, while undercover GAO investigators slipped bomb components through a checkpoint and assembled them in a bathroom.
“The people—not just employees, but millions of visitors—who enter federal buildings each year deserve better protection,” said committee Chairman and bill co-author Joseph Lieberman (I-CT). “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.”