Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Another bill to revamp federal building security

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) is pushing for changes at the agency responsible for protecting thousands of federal buildings more than 14 months after he promised to take quick action.

Lieberman and other members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Monday introduced a bill to reform the Federal Protective Service, a small unit of the Department of Homeland Security that provides security for about 1.5 million federal workers at 9,000 federal facilities with a mix of 800 full-time federal inspectors and 15,000 private security guards. The agency also drafts building security plans for federal tenants.

But last summer the committee blasted FPS for serious security gaps after government auditors successfully entered 10 major federal buildings with bombmaking materials.

"In all the years I've been hearing GAO reports, that's about the broadest indictment of an agency of the federal government that I've heard and it's not pleasant to hear it," Lieberman said at a July 2009 hearing on the findings. "We're obviously going to try to work together with the agency to improve its performance."

Lieberman aides promised legislation within weeks, but last November's Ft. Hood shooting, the failed Christmas Day airplane bomb attack and the thwarted Times Square bomb attempt pulled staffers away from drafting a bill.

Now, with precious days left for Congress to complete, well, anything, Lieberman, Susan Collins (R-Maine), Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) want FPS to hire 500 new full-time workers and to establish new national training standards for private guards, including at least 80 hours of training before they start. And in an effort to strike a better balance between security concerns and easy public access to government buildings, the senators also proposed a way for agencies to appeal FPS security plans if the measures potentially hinder public access.

The proposed Senate bill is similar to a House proposal unveiled last week that would allow FPS to hire 550 new workers, require the agency to establish national training standards and explore ways to federalize private security guards.

One big difference: The Senate bill gives full-time FPS inspectors the right to carry their weapons when off-duty, something long-sought by their union representatives.

No official word on how quickly the bills will advance or whether they may be merged into a Homeland Security authorization bill, as some aides private suggest.

"The senator is hoping for lame duck passage, but is fully aware of all the traps that lie ahead," said Lieberman spokeswoman Leslie Phillips. With little time left for lawmakers to move any legislation, it's likely federal building security will remain an unsolved issue, leaving millions of federal workers at risk.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Cabinet and Staff News: President Obama says the federal government is getting "less intrusive." Another verbal flub from Vice President Joe Biden. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's memoirs due soon. Motorcycle with the signatures of Obama, Biden and National Security Adviser James Jones to be auctioned.

Family fight, Border Patrol raid, baby deported: The federal government ended up deporting a little girl, an American citizen, and her father. The mother would not see her daughter again for three years.

FDA opens hearings on genetically modified salmon: Regulators pondered Monday whether to say, for the first time, that it is permissible to market a genetically engineered animal as safe for people to eat.

Companies, consumer advocates join to press for food-safety bill: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he plans to shelve the bill in light of the limited time before Congress breaks for midterm elections.

FBI probes were improper, Justice says: It improperly opened and extended investigations of some U.S. activist groups and put members of an environmental advocacy organization on a terrorist watch list.

FBI misled Justice about spying on peace group: There was a time in the 1960s when the FBI's illegal surveillance of left-wing groups seemed, and maybe even was, sinister if not broadly menacing.

Sen. Graham: U.S. is 'punting' on national security issues: The South Carolina Republican fears only a terrorist attack will revive efforts to enact a sustainable legal framework to fight terrorism.

Follow The Federal Eye on Twitter | Submit your news tips here

By Ed O'Keefe  | September 21, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Congress, Eye Opener, Workplace Issues  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: FBI probes were improper, Justice says
Next: Senate panel approves Jack Lew for OMB


And the fear-mongering continues.

Posted by: jckdoors | September 21, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Fear will keep the population in line.

Posted by: jiji1 | September 21, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse



Posted by: lquarton | September 22, 2010 1:11 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company