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Written testimony of NPPD Federal Protective Service Director Eric Patterson for a House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency hearing titled “Driving Away with Taxpayer Dollars: DHS's Failure to Effectively Manage the Federal Protective Service Vehicle Fleet”

Release Date: 
December 3, 2015

311 Cannon House Office Building

Thank you Chairman Perry, Ranking Member Watson Coleman, and the distinguished members of the Committee. I am honored to testify today regarding the management and operations of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) vehicle fleet.

Mission

FPS is charged with protecting and delivering integrated law enforcement and security services to more than 9,500 Federal facilities nationwide and safeguarding their more than 1.4 million daily occupants and visitors.

FPS Authorities

In performing this mission, FPS relies on the law enforcement and security authorities found in Title 40 United States Code § 1315, agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies for purposes of protecting Federal property, Federal regulations pertinent to conduct on Federal property, and our responsibility as the recognized “first responder” for all crimes and suspicious activity occurring on GSA owned or leased property.

FPS Law Enforcement Personnel

FPS directly employs more than 1,000 officers, inspectors, and special agents who are trained physical security experts and sworn Federal law enforcement officers. FPS law enforcement personnel perform a variety of critical functions, including conducting comprehensive security assessments to identify vulnerabilities at facilities, developing and implementing protective countermeasures, providing uniformed police response and investigative follow-up to crimes and threats, and other law enforcement activities in support of our protection mission.

FPS Vehicle Fleet Operations

One of the most important tools our law enforcement officers have in performing their duties is their law enforcement vehicle. In fact, in 2015, FPS law enforcement officers drove over 9.5 million miles to respond to over 80,000 incidents and events and provide protective services to our tenant agencies. It should also be noted that FPS K-9 teams are routinely requested to assist state, local and other jurisdictions with sweeps for suspicious packages and potential explosive devices.

FPS mission requirements, as well as our unwavering commitment to officer safety, drive decisions regarding the number, type, assignment location, and up-fitting of the vehicles in our fleet.

We are tasked with protecting Federal facilities in all 50 States and U.S. Territories, including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa. Accordingly, FPS must operate in environments ranging from the rural Mountain West, where an officer might be required to travel alone for hours in exigent weather and road conditions, to urban Philadelphia, where our officers regularly utilize their vehicles to help redirect the flow of traffic around active crime-scenes or high-profile National Special Security Events (NSSEs), such as the recent papal visit.

In order for FPS to meet its mission requirements for the security of 9,500 geographically dispersed Federal facilities, FPS assigns one vehicle to each of its approximately 1,000 law enforcement officers to facilitate timely and effective response to incidents or other emergency situations, such as NSSEs and crimes at Federal facilities. Each vehicle is appropriately equipped to assure officer and public safety and the capability to transport mission critical gear, including a gun vault, rifles and other firearms, a first aid kit, and a biochemical protective suit, for use in diverse and exigent circumstances.

Additionally, because FPS law enforcement responds to emergencies at all hours, and given that areas of responsibility are geographically vast and duty stations of record are not necessarily centrally located, the Secretary has also authorized home-to-work transportation authority for FPS law enforcement officers. This authority helps ensure that FPS law enforcement personnel are ready and properly equipped to respond to emergency incidents during off-duty hours.

Finally, the number of spare vehicles is based on a variety of factors, including onboarding of new law enforcement officers, geography, the need for special purpose vehicles such as K-9 units, scheduled maintenance, unscheduled maintenance and repairs, and unscheduled replacements.

For example, four FPS law enforcement officers secure 50 Federal facilities in the state of Hawaii. However, given challenges related to vehicle maintenance, repair, and replacement on the Hawaiian islands, FPS has assigned five vehicles to the state. As is the case with all law enforcement agencies with first responder responsibilities, in the event that a law enforcement vehicle breaks down and cannot be quickly placed back into service, a spare vehicle is required to assure mission readiness.

FPS Operations

As the Committee is undoubtedly aware, 2015 has been a very operationally active year for our organization, necessitating heavy use of our fleet.

On October 28, 2014, in response to continued calls for attacks on the homeland, military and law enforcement personnel, and other government officials by ISIS and other terrorist organizations, Secretary Johnson initiated Operation Blue Surge, directing the Federal Protective Service to enhance its presence and security at Federal facilities nationwide. FPS has sustained an enhanced operational tempo since.

Additionally, FPS responded to other sensitive events and incidents throughout the year, including the civil unrest in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD, the trial of “Boston Marathon Bomber” Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, shootings at military recruiting stations in Chattanooga, TN, and the active shooter incidents in Suitland, MD and lower Manhattan, where two FPS contract Protective Security Officers lost their lives in the line of duty.

FPS Vehicle Fleet Management

Today, the FPS fleet consists of 1,180 vehicles, including 981 law enforcement sport utility vehicles (SUVs), 82 specialized K-9 vehicles, 56 law enforcement sedans, and 29 administrative vehicles. Ninety-seven percent of vehicles in the FPS fleet are leased through an agreement with the General Services Administration (GSA). Prior to leasing, all FPS fleet requirements must be validated by DHS and the National Protection and Programs Directorate and the make and model selected annually from the law enforcement vehicles available in the GSA Federal Supply Schedule.

FPS pays GSA an average monthly base rate for vehicles, and the overall monthly cost per vehicles is determined by the base rate, the monthly mileage charge, and costs associated with law enforcement equipment up-fit.

The FPS Administrative Services Division is responsible for ensuring that FPS is equipped with the number and type of vehicles necessary to meet the requirements of the FPS mission. Additionally, this team ensures that the FPS fleet is managed in accordance with the FPS Fleet Management Directive, the NPPD Motor Vehicle Fleet Program Manual, the DHS Motor Vehicle Fleet Program Manual, and sound law enforcement operations and asset management principles.

DHS OIG Findings

The Federal Protective Service appreciates the recent work of the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General in conducting a review of the administration of the FPS vehicle fleet and for recommending additional steps we can take to manage our fleet more effectively.

While at the conclusion of the review, the IG did not issue any recommendations to FPS directly or direct FPS to make changes to the total number or type of vehicles in its inventory, the report did conclude that FPS could, and should, improve its vehicle fleet management program.

Specifically, the report recommended that DHS and NPPD work with FPS to review an existing vehicle lease agreement with GSA, formally document and validate fleet management decisions regarding an upcoming lease agreement, and ensure compliance with Federal laws, regulations, and Executive Orders related to Federal asset management and asset management best practices.

We take the recommendations seriously and are working with the DHS and NPPD fleet managers to help develop policies to control associated fleet costs while meeting mission requirements.

Addressing OIG Findings

New procedural updates have already been developed to address the recommendations identified in the recent OIG report and will help to ensure the robust oversight of Department’s vehicle fleet going forward.

In response to the IG’s recommendations, FPS implemented a comprehensive fleet management directive on August 27, 2015. This directive provides for an effective and efficient fleet management program and has established standard methodology for fleet acquisition, leasing, and management oversight.

In response to the IG’s recommendation to eliminate SUVs in favor of a sedan based fleet, FPS conducted a cost analysis of the two options. Because sedan up-fit costs are amortized over a 36 month lease and an SUV up-fit is amortized over a 60 month lease, the analysis showed a sedan would cost more than an SUV.

Additionally, FPS has finalized a methodology for spare vehicle management to better document and validate that the number and type of spare vehicles on hand at any given time are appropriate given mission needs. FPS will continue to work with NPPD to develop and implement a formal process to document and validate fleet management decisions to ensure alignment with NPPD and DHS guidance. FPS is working to incorporate capability requirements documentation for all vehicle fleet assets by the end of this calendar year.

The Department is also modernizing its Vehicle Allocation Methodology which will help validate efficient use of vehicles department-wide in order to better meet the essential mission of protecting and securing our homeland in an ever-evolving and complex threat environment. The DHS Chief Readiness Support Officer expects to implement the results of this cooperative endeavor by early FY 2017. In the interim, FPS will utilize recently developed NPPD use and retention methodology, which was approved on October 31, 2015, to review and validate vehicle replacement acquisition orders.

Further, the Department is revising its Motor Vehicle Fleet Management Instruction in order to enhance Department-level oversight of its motor vehicle program— for example, by requiring mandatory reviews of all motor vehicle acquisitions. The Department expects to issue interim guidance regarding these changes this calendar year.

Finally, in order to substantiate the IG’s concerns regarding potential overpayments, FPS conducted a thorough review of our lease agreements with GSA dating back to 2007. FPS and GSA are working together to ensure a common understanding of leasing arrangements and billing processes so that future decisions provide the best value to the American people.

I am confident our collective efforts will result in improved documentation, decision making, and management oversight, and we anticipate submitting four of the five recommendations to the IG for closure within the next three to four weeks.

Commitment to Securing Federal Facilities

In closing, I would like to acknowledge and thank the distinguished Members of this Committee for the opportunity to testify today. The Federal Protective Service remains committed to utilizing sound management practices in support of its mission to provide safety, security, and a sense of well-being to the thousands of visitors and Federal employees who work and conduct business in our facilities every day.

I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

Last Published Date: September 24, 2019
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