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Statement for the Record of Gary Schenkel, Director Federal Protective Service National Protection and Programs Directorate Department of Homeland Security Before the United States House of Representatives House Committee on Homeland Security Washington, DC

Release Date: 
April 14, 2010

Thank you Chairman Thompson, Ranking Member King, and other distinguished Members of the Committee. My name is Gary Schenkel, and I am the Director of the Federal Protective Service (FPS), which is now within the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD). I am pleased to appear before you today to discuss the actions that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has undertaken to ensure the safety and security of federal government buildings.

FPS Background

FPS is responsible for the security of more than 9,000 General Services Administration (GSA)-owned and leased facilities. FPS’ primary tasks are to provide scheduled all-hazard, risk-based facility security assessments; recommend countermeasures; and implement the countermeasures approved by the Facility Security Committee representing each of the 9,000 facilities. FPS offers comprehensive physical security operations that include installing alarm systems, X-rays, magnetometers, and entry control systems; monitoring installed systems around the clock; providing uniformed police response and investigative follow-up; providing Protective Security Officers (PSOs); hosting crime prevention seminars tailored to individual agency and employee needs; conducting facility security surveys; integrating intelligence gathering and promoting information sharing; and completing more than 35,000 background investigations annually.

FPS conducts nearly 2,500 Facility Security Assessments annually and responds to approximately 1,400 demonstrations. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, FPS responded to 35,812 calls for service, including 1,242 protests and organized disturbances; made 1,646 arrests; conducted 1,115 criminal investigations; processed 272 weapons violations; and prevented the introduction of 661,724 prohibited items into federal facilities.

This work is made possible by the more than 1,225 federal law enforcement and support staff personnel, including 689 Law Enforcement Security Officers, who possess the authority and training to perform traditional police functions in connection with the protection of federal facilities, including conducting Facility Security Assessments and implementing and testing security measures. The more than 15,000 PSOs are well-trained individuals who complement the work of the federal personnel. PSOs are members of facility security forces and have the training, equipment, and appropriate certifications to perform a specific security function.

FPS in Transition

FPS was transferred from GSA to DHS in 2003. Since 2003, DHS has been working to transform FPS from 11 different regional organizations, each with its own business practices, into a single agency. To establish a systematic, strategic, and professional approach, FPS identified and shared best practices, developed standardized policies, identified problems, and developed solutions in its financial, administrative, and operational program areas. The transition also required a new strategic approach to the FPS protective mission, and the resulting FPS Strategic Plan focused on critical issues within the protective mission, including developing a sound strategic path forward focused on ensuring that facilities are secure and occupants are safe. Further, the transfer of FPS from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to NPPD requested in the President's FY 2010 Budget provided DHS with a single component responsible for the comprehensive infrastructure security program. The integration of FPS into NPPD enhanced DHS’ overarching strategy and mission to lead the unified effort to improve our nation’s security.

FPS has taken a number of steps to improve the professionalism and performance of its federal and contract workforce. For example, FPS systematically measures the effectiveness of all FPS countermeasures. One of our most effective measurement programs is Operation Shield, in which FPS conducts unannounced inspections to measure the effectiveness of contract guards in detecting the presence of unauthorized persons; potentially disruptive or dangerous activities in or around federal facilities; and the guards’ ability to prevent the introduction of prohibited items or harmful substances into facilities. Operation Shield also serves as a visible, proactive, and random measure that may be used as a deterrent to disrupt the planning of terrorist activities.

Though FPS has robust security activities in place, FPS is focused on continual improvement. FPS has addressed the 2009 GAO report regarding contract guard oversight and lapses in screening procedures by determining the root causes of the lapses and taking the following measures to prevent recurrence:

  • Increasing the frequency of post inspections of PSOs;
  • Requiring additional training in magnetometer and X-ray screening including a contract modification requiring 100 percent contractor use of FPS-produced training that addresses screening for improvised explosive devices;
  • Ensuring that all PSOs are contractually compliant with certifications and qualifications, by incorporating the certification system into the Risk Assessment Management Program (RAMP); and
  • Developing and initiating a 16-hour magnetometer X-ray training program, provided to PSOs by FPS Inspectors, titled National Weapons Detection Program, which began in January 2010.

Testing and Improving Facility Security

As a result of a Covert Testing Working Group, FPS developed a Covert Testing Program, which enhanced and complemented the ongoing overt efforts to improve oversight and promote the attentiveness and professionalism of the PSO. This program further achieves FPS strategic goals to effectively and efficiently ensure secure facilities and safe occupants. While the Covert Testing Program is a discreet investigative operation used to assess and validate the effectiveness of security countermeasures, Operation Shield is highly visible measure.

FPS takes an all-hazards approach to the Facility Security Assessment, which is at the core of the agency’s mission requirement. FPS’ new RAMP is a web-based system that calculates risks— including terrorist, criminal, geologic or meteorological—into an equation that is then measured against countermeasures to mitigate those risks. The Computer Aided Dispatch and Information System will standardize reporting procedures, consolidate crime and incident reporting, and time-stamp our operations, thus providing accurate data to support future staffing models. The Post Tracking System will strengthen the accuracy of post staffing and billing and will further reduce the administrative burden on our Inspectors, allowing them more time for conducting building security assessments, active patrol, and guard oversight.

The activities I have highlighted have helped accomplish the goal of improving the FPS workforce and the ability of that workforce to fulfill the FPS mission. As a testament to our progress, we have closed or recommended for closure nearly half of the recommendations made by the GAO.

Federal-Contract Guard Mix

We believe that we can effectively secure Federal buildings with the current mix of Federal staff and highly trained contract guards. However, as the Department implements the full FPS transition to NPPD from ICE, NPPD leadership is completing a bottom-up review of FPS that includes consideration of federalizing or partially federalizing the contract security guard workforce. The study looks at several operational alternatives including the conversion options regarding the 15,000 contract guards to federal positions. We expect to complete this study for inclusion in the Fiscal Year 2012 budget. .

While we believe we can effectively secure federal buildings with the current mix of highly trained federal staff and contract guards, we have not ruled out the possibility of expanding our federal workforce to enhance the ability of our men and women to fulfill the FPS mission. DHS is currently studying staffing levels to ensure that FPS has the appropriate level of staffing in the right locations to fulfill its mission. The Department took immediate action following the introduction of minimum staffing levels in the FY 2008 Consolidated Appropriation Act, and the FPS budget requests in FY 2009, FY 2010, and FY 2011 were all equal to or exceeded the 1,200 full-time equivalent staffing level directed by Congress, demonstrating the Department’s commitment to ensuring the organization is appropriately staffed.

Conclusion

The Department will continue to work with public and private homeland security partners to ensure that Federal facilities are safe and secure.

Thank you for holding this important hearing. I would be happy to respond to any questions you may have.

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