The Bush administration wants to overhaul the troubled agency in charge of security at federal buildings, cutting personnel and giving a bigger role to local police, the Washington Post reports. Members of Congress oppose the plan, saying that it could leave government employees more vulnerable to crime or attacks by terrorists. The Federal Protective Service employs 15,000 contract security guards at government buildings nationwide. It has been under fire for its performance in the Washington region, where a report last year found that 30 percent of the service’s guards analyzed had expired certifications.
Security guards threatened to walk off their jobs at some D.C. area facilities this month after they hadn’t been paid by their contractor. The Protective Service had hired the contractor without realizing that it was run by a felon and his wife. The Department of Homeland Security, parent of the Federal Protective Service, wants to shrink the cash-strapped service from 1,150 to 950 federal police officers and staffers and trim their responsibilities. That would enable the service to better oversee the 15,000 guards, whose numbers would not change, With the sharp rise in terrorist threats, the contract guard force has ballooned from a few thousand before the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing to 15,000 armed and unarmed guards.