Use of private security guards under scrutiny
There's a saying among some private security guards in the Washington region: "There's no security in security."
Poor job security and the potential dangers that come with protecting government buildings make it a risky line of work, yours truly reports in today's Post:
Unlike officers with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency who gunned down shooter John Patrick Bedell last week, most security guards at federal buildings in the Washington region are employed by private firms that have contracts with the Federal Protective Service.
The FPS, part of the Department of Homeland Security, provides security at more than 9,000 federal buildings across the country and uses about 15,000 contract security guards to support about 1,200 officers, inspectors and administrative staffers, according to agency officials. A House hearing Tuesday will focus on the FPS's future and its response to a 2009 Government Accountability Office investigation that exposed security gaps at 10 major federal buildings. The GAO report also faulted the FPS for inconsistent training and poor oversight of private guards.
Next month, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) plans to introduce legislation that addresses the agency's future and broader threats and security measures at all civilian and military facilities, aides said.
FPS officials said in a statement that it has increased both overt and covert inspections of security posts, as well as its oversight of contract guards. In response to GAO concerns with the training and qualification of those guards, the agency said it has reviewed all contract guard certification and qualification records.
But the agency's 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.
| March 11, 2010; 10:15 AM ET
Categories: Oversight, Workplace Issues
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