Federal Protective Service Reform Act







SEPTEMBER 28, 2000

Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. I am Bob Peck, Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service. With me today is Clarence Edwards, Assistant Commissioner for the Federal Protective Service. Thank you for the opportunity to update you on our progress in improving security in GSA-owned and leased buildings and to express our concerns regarding H.R. 809.  It goes almost without saying that we have no more important responsibility than providing for the security of the tenants and visitors in our buildings. As I've said before, we need to provide that security while maintaining friendly, inviting, public buildings. No easy task.

Since the heinous bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, we have tripled our annual spending on security to over $250 million per year, increased the number of Federal Protective Officers to 582 (this includes both our traditional federal police officers (FPO) and our new law enforcement security officers (LESOs), as of July 31), and doubled the number of contract guards to over 6,000.

We are also improving our security in qualitative ways that go beyond numbers. Many in our Federal Protective Service (FPS) are embracing the changes; some are not and would like to see FPS divorced from PBS and made an independent arm of GSA. We oppose that change. First, here's what our changes in FPS are all about. We started by defining the FPS mission and objective; they had not been clear before. The objective is for FPS to become the best facilities security organization in the world. The principal mission is building security, by which we mean protecting the affected facility, its tenants, visitors and their property from harm. As Assistant Commissioner Edwards, a veteran police officer and our top FPS official, says: FPS is not a police organization; it is a facility security organization with law enforcement authority.

We are changing training, job definitions and tactics to carry out this mission. We have created the new LESO position, which will become the core position in FPS. LESOs get both full law enforcement and physical security training. LESOs have full arrest authority and carry weapons. They wear police uniforms or plain clothes depending on the needs of the day. Their job is to be responsible for security in a given geographical area: to oversee physical security precautions and to deal with emergencies. LESOs are being deployed so as to extend our protective services to locations not previously covered.  We already have about 79 on board, 62 of them former FPS officers or Physical Security Specialists (PSS); another 76 LESO positions are in the recruitment process. Not coincidentally, the new position starts and tops out at GS levels above where the general FPS officer position currently starts and tops out.

We have added a special 2-week FPS orientation course to the 8-week basic police training our recruits get at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. We have also created a 4-week Physical Security Academy that is quickly becoming known governmentwide.

We have adopted the "community policing" tactics that have taken police officers out of their cars and back on the streets in cities and federal facilities around the country (often on foot, sometimes on bicycles, which we are using, too). The idea is to be out and about to deter incidents, not to wait for a 911 call after incidents have occurred. We call it "customer oriented policing" and it means our officers, whether LESOs or FPOs, will spend more time in and around the buildings we lease and operate. We expect this to yield two additional benefits: 1) our customers, who pay security surcharges that partially fund FPS (which is also supported by regular rent payments), will actually see more of our highly qualified in-house security experts, and 2) we'll be able to convert our tenants into more effective eyes and ears, alerting us to possible problems, whether malfunctioning equipment or workplace situations that pose a threat.
We have deployed a terrific new software package for use by our Physical Security Specialists and LESOs in identifying the threats against each of our locations and evaluating how to respond to those threats. It may have been the quickest and most successful single rollout of a software application I've seen in PBS.

All the experts say that intelligence is the most important weapon against those who plan violent acts. Our Criminal Investigators (CI's) have all received intelligence analysis training and are involved with highly effective liaison efforts with the federal intelligence-gathering agencies, like the FBI. We have upgraded our secure communications equipment, too. Additionally, the CI's are being trained in the new Regional Threat Assessment Methodology.

Finally, we have upgraded requirements in our contract guard contracts and put FPS officers in charge of monitoring training quality. Security guards are now required to have 100 hours of training, higher academic standard, and consistent firearms training.  In all of this training and job redefinition, we are acknowledging that our security personnel are like their other PBS colleagues: there will never be enough of us to do all of the hands-on work that needs to get done; rather, PBS employees do the work that is inherently governmental and manage contractors and use technology to multiply our capacity.

Now, why do we oppose making FPS a separate arm of GSA? Principally because it would divorce security from other Federal building functions when the opposite needs to be the case: security needs to be tightly integrated into decisions about the location, design and operation of Federal buildings. Divorcing FPS would create an organizational barrier between protection experts and the PBS asset managers, planners, project managers and building managers who set PBS budgets and policies for our inventory as a whole and who oversee the day-to-day operations in our buildings.  The security we provide is financed out of rent revenues collected by the Public Buildings Service from our building tenants. Those tenants understandably look directly to PBS for responses to their security questions and needs. A separate GSA security service would be confusing to them and would lead to confusion about who is responsible for what in GSA's security efforts. It is also contrary to other agency efforts to present our customers with a seamless GSA, which is capable of offering more integrated housing solutions.  The relationship between FPS and PBS is like that of the U.S. Park Police and the National Park Service. The Park Police are a component of the National Park Service and not a separate bureau of the Department of the Interior. The Park Police patrol and protect properties that fall under the auspices of the Park Service, just as FPS patrols and protects properties under the auspices of the Public Buildings Service. The Department of the Interior has found, just as GSA has, that the protection function needs to be fully integrated with the other aspects of property preservation, operation and management.

In closing, I thank the Subcommittee for this opportunity to discuss security at GSA-controlled facilities. We are pleased that both the GAO and the IG recognize the significant progress we've made in improving the security of Federal buildings. We look forward to working with the Subcommittee on this issue.

This concludes my prepared statement. We would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

Last Reviewed 2010-11-29