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Head of federal building security agency transferred

By Ed O'Keefe

The director of the beleaguered agency responsible for protecting federal buildings will be transferred in June to a liaison role with the Department of Homeland Security, ending a rocky three-year tenure that exposed serious flaws in federal building security.

Federal Protective Service Director Gary W. Schenkel told colleagues in an e-mail Tuesday that he will move to DHS headquarters in June to serve as acting deputy assistant secretary for state and local law enforcement. Deputy Director Paul Durette will serve as acting director once Schenkel departs, and the department is seeking a permanent replacement, a DHS spokeswoman said.

Schenkel, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, joined FPS in March 2007 after serving as director of Transportation Security Administration operations at Chicago Midway Airport. He led an agency responsible for protecting 1.5 million government workers at 9,000 federal facilities, ranging from multistory downtown buildings to suburban government warehouses.

FPS employs about 1,200 employees and almost 15,000 private security contractors. But the lax training of those contract guards earned the agency national media attention last July, when government auditors told lawmakers they successfully smuggled bomb making materials through security checkpoints at 10 large federal buildings. Once inside, government investigators assembled bombs in restrooms and then walked around the buildings undetected.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) called the report "the broadest indictment of an agency of the federal government that I've heard."

Schenkel faulted a lack of oversight and improper funding and manpower as the agency was absorbed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the establishment of DHS in 2003. The agency has instituted a series of reforms since last summer's report, including a review of contract guard certifications, development of a new training program and increased spot inspections of guard posts.

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 25, 2010; 5:46 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Revolving Door  
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