Doug Bedell — July 9, 2009, 6:11 am

Federal Contract Guards Miss Bomb-Making Materials

The importance of providing effective supervision/oversight of security programs was brought home vividly to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this week.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported on how its investigators entered 10 federal high-security buildings carrying components for bombs through doors being monitored by contract guards. Once inside, the investigators assembled the components into an improvised explosive device and walked into legislative and executive branch offices with it in a briefcase.

Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman said that in all his years of reading GAO reports, this one represented “about the broadest indictment of an agency in the federal government I’ve heard.”

GAO also found that, of 663 randomly selected guards, 62 percent had at least one expired certification.

Gary Shenkel, director of the Federal Protective Service responsible for supervising the guards, said the agency is developing remedies after being briefed on the GAO findings. It may also be moved from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau to the National Protection and Programs Directorate, a change proposed by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that would require congressional approval.

It may be easy to scorn FPS for its performance in federal buildings, but how well are security guards that you know about being supervised?

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