NEWS

Senate Bill to Reform Federal Protective Service Introduced

By Joseph Straw

Leadership of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at reforming the beleaguered Federal Protective Service (FPS), which is responsible for the security of roughly 9,000 federal sites nationwide.

The bill calls for FPS’s full-time staff to grow by 500 by 2014, and not fall below its current level of 1,200. The bill would further require 80 hours’ training for each of the agency’s roughly 15,000 contract guards, 16 hours of annual training after that, plus establishment of an evaluation program for the agency and its guards, including overt and covert testing.

Notably, the bill requires designation of three federal sites for deployment of full-body scanners, now referred to by the federal government as “advanced imaging technology.” The bill would prohibit FPS from saving any images captured with the controversial scanning devices, as happened with machines used by the U.S. Marshal Service.

A committee aide told Security Management that the full-body scanner requirement is a response to the vulnerabilities exposed by U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigators last summer, who passed through FPS checkpoints with bomb components and then assembled the devices in restrooms (.pdf).

(For Security Management coverage of persistent problems at the FPS, click here, here, and here.)

A separate reform bill was introduced last week by Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee. Doubts persist over whether the separate bills can be passed and reconciled before the end of the current Congress this year.

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