Who Guards Federal Buildings? Congress Takes A Look


“There really are no federal standards for security guards” at federal buildings, David Wright, president of an American Federation of Government Employees local, tells the Washington Post. The Federal Protective Service, part of the Department of Homeland Security, provides security at more than 9,000 federal buildings across the U.S. and uses about 15,000 contract security guards. A House of Representatives hearing Tuesday will focus on the agency’s future and its response to a Government Accountability Office report that exposed security gaps at 10 major federal buildings. The GAO faulted the FPS for inconsistent training and poor oversight of private guards.

The current arrangement leads to an odd mix of public- and private-sector workers who frequently fight turf wars and disagree on lines of authority, both private and federal guards said. Some contract guards permanently stationed at a location believe they have a stronger understanding of its security threats than do federal officers who make infrequent visits to perform law enforcement duties, review building security plans, and train tenants about security threats. One guard said, “You never know what to expect day to day. It can be health problems, domestic problems. Ex-husbands show up to see their wives in the lobby.”

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