As U.S. Heightens Federal Building Security, GAO Questions How Good It Is


When Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson heightened security at federal buildings this week, this week, he turned to a little-known law enforcement agency that describes itself as an elite protector of federal facilities nationwide. The Federal Protective Service has had its share of problems, and a series of government audits raises questions about whether the agency is fully prepared for any new threats that arise, reports the Washington Post. The reports say the agency has failed to train and oversee properly many of the thousands of contract security guards who stand post at more than 9,500 federal facilities.

In 2011, a contract guard brought an unopened bomb into a 26-story federal building in Detroit and left it unattended for three weeks, triggering bi-partisan blasts from Congress. Two years earlier, government investigators successfully smuggled bomb-making materials into 10 federal buildings protected by the service that house national security or law enforcement agencies, according to the Government Accountability Office. In May, GAO said an official from one Federal Protective Service's contract guard company reported that about 38 percent of its 350 guards never received mandatory screener training. The GAO used blunt language to express its displeasure. Since 2010, GAO has made 31 recommendations to improve the protective service's oversight of contract guards and its ability to assess the risk to federal buildings. Only six had been implemented.

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