Preliminary Results Show Federal Protective Service’s Ability to Protect Federal Facilities Is Hampered By Weaknesses in Its Contract Security Guard Program – United States Government Accountability Office


FPS does not fully ensure that its guards have the training and certifications required to stand post at federal facilities. While FPS requires that all prospective guards complete about 128 hours of training, including 8 hours of x-ray and magnetometer training, it was not providing some of its guards with all of the required training in the six regions we visited. For example, in one region, FPS has not provided the required 8 hours of x-ray or magnetometer training to its 1,500 guards since 2004. Xray training is critical because the majority of guards are primarily responsible for using this equipment to monitor and control access points at federal facilities. Insufficient x-ray and magnetometer training may have contributed to several incidents in federal facilities where guards were negligent in carrying out their responsibilities. For example, at a level IV facility in a major city, an infant in a carrier was sent through an x-ray machine, which is considered hazardous,7 due to the guard’s negligence. We also found that some guards had not been provided building-specific training, which may have contributed to several guards at one federal facility not following evacuation procedures and leaving access points unattended and vulnerable. FPS’s primary system—CERTS—for monitoring and verifying whether guards have the training and certifications required to stand post at federal facilities is not fully reliable. We reviewed training and certification data for 663 randomly selected guards in 6 of FPS’s 11 regions maintained in CERTS, which is the agency’s primary system for tracking guard training and certifications. Because CERTS was not fully reliable we also used databases maintained by some of FPS’s regions or information provided by the contractor. We found that 62 percent, or 411 of the 663 guards who were deployed to a federal facility had at least one expired firearm qualification, background investigation, domestic violence declaration8, or CPR/First Aid training certification. More specifically, according to the most recent information from one contractor, we found that over 75 percent of the 354 guards at a level IV facility had expired certifications or the contractor had no record of the training. Based on the contractor information for another contract, we also found that almost 40 percent of the 191 guards at another level IV facility had expired domestic violence declarations. Without domestic violence declarations in place, guards are not permitted to carry a firearm. FPS requires its guards to carry weapons. In addition, one of FPS’s contractors allegedly falsified training records for its guards—an incident that is currently being litigated. FPS became aware of this alleged violation from an employee of the contractor and not from its internal control procedures. Moreover, we found that FPS officials in the 6 regions we visited are generally relying on the contractor to self-report that training and certification requirements are met because CERTS is not fully reliable.

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