Weaknesses In Federal Security – Another Perspective – Michael Brown Today – Michael Brown, Homeland Security, FEMA

Let’s recap the mainstream media’s reporting: GAO is able to get bomb-making material into federal buildings. Congress is outraged that this could happen. FPS must be an agency in crisis. People working for the FPS are incompetent.

What we should be asking Senator Collins and Senator Lieberman is this. When you conducted your oversight of the Department of Homeland Security, did you ever ask about the FPS budget? Did you ask why the organization was being moved into DHS in the first place? After FPS was moved into DHS did you inquire about their budget and personnel? After DHS was moved from one component of DHS to another, did you inquire about the costs of these moves and whether or not DHS was bleeding the FPS budget of needed funding and personnel?

The problem is FPS, like many other agencies consumed by DHS, saw their budgets and personnel counts dwindle as DHS siphoned off money to “integrate” these agencies into the new department. When Congress and the Bush Administration mandated the creation of DHS to be budget neutral, either they were deceiving themselves and the public, or they were blissfully ignorant of the costs of consolidating 22 agencies into one department. FPS, much like FEMA and other organizations within DHS, saw the loss of money and manpower.

  • Dan Shulman

    Unfortunately, FPS’ problems started long before the integration into DHS. Prior to being folded into DHS, FPS was a component of GSA, logically so since their primary mission is the protection of federal buildings. Funding to accomplish this mission is supposed to come from a security fee charged to the tenants of GSA owned buildings and buildings that are leased by GSA for other federal agencies. However, FPS was structurally deficient then, as now, because they are prohibited from passing on the true cost of securing buildings to the tenant agencies. Simply put, if GSA were to charge the true cost of security to its tenants, their prices would not be competitive with the retail market and agencies would seek space not from GSA, itself a wasteful practice. In addition, FPS largely accomplishes their mission of protecting over 8,000 federal buildings through the use of contract guards, not actual police officers, with all of the expected deficiencies in quality and training one would expect from contract guards. Finally, FPS has historically had a difficult time attracting the best candidates because their officers were not given the same status as other federal police agencies.

    I do concur that these problems should not be a surprise, especially since these are problems that the House Transportation Committee has been discussing for many years. Blaming these problems on FPS’ integration into DHS misses the longer term problem that exists and has existed.