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Monday, April 19, 2010

Dent: Security at Federal Buildings Too Lax

According to a recently released GAO report, security at federal buildings is way too lax. In covert tests conducted by the Federal Protective Service, contract guards will lay out a welcome mat to people with guns, knives and bombs two out of three times. Even more scary, people carrying components for an improvised explosive device passed undetected by guards at 10 out of 10 high-security facilities in four major cities.

LV Congressman Charlie Dent, in a Friday news release, announces that he's introduced legislation (Federal Protective Service Reform and Enhancement Act of 2010, H.R. 5053) to beef up security in Federal facilities by reforming the agency charged with protecting federal employees and visitors. The Federal Protective Service is the lead government agency tasked with providing security at more than 9,000 facilities. Most of the work is done by 15,000 contract guards, who are not really federal employees.

“Fifteen years ago our nation was shaken by the bombing of the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City. Recent acts of violence at Federal facilities are a stark reminder that our nation’s Federal buildings remain vulnerable to attack,” Congressman Dent said. “Sadly, the Federal agency tasked with providing security at Federal buildings has been woefully understaffed and appears inept. That is why I have introduced legislation that provides better training and stronger oversight for the men and women who are the first line of defense in our nation’s Federal government buildings.”

Dent serves as Ranking Member on the Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee, and has "seen firsthand the vulnerabilities our nation’s Federal facilities face on a daily basis. To address these issues, my legislation implements a number of recommendations called for by the Government Accountability Office that would enhance security and safety in Federal buildings.”

Key provisions of the legislation include:

· Enhancing standards for training and certification of contract guards;

· Improving Federal Protective Service oversight of the contract guard program;

· Nearly doubling the number of Federal Protective Service Inspectors to increase the frequency of security inspections;

· Increasing the frequency and quality of covert inspections and penetration tests; and

· Standardizing a list of items that would be prohibited from being brought into a Federal facility.

Additionally, the bill establishes a 3-year pilot program to be implemented in at least three of the highest-security Federal facilities to evaluate whether cost savings or security enhancements exist in having a federalized guard staff. The Obama administration has resisted attempts to replace these glorified security guards with federal law enforcement officers.

“These reforms will allow the Federal Protective Service to better meet its critical mission of protecting Americans who work in and visit our government’s facilities,” Congressman Dent said.

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