Thanks to Leslie in Raleigh for the heads up on this report.

The latest GAO report titled Preliminary Observations on the Federal Protective Service’s Efforts to Protect Federal Property was released on 2/08/08. This report investigates issues surrounding Federal Protective Service’s, the agency tasked with protecting government property, you know like Plum Island Animal Disease Center  and the proposed National Bio Agro Defense Facility. 

The report finds that due to decreased funding, another facet of our National Security is under attack from the very agency that says we are safer, The Department of Homeland Security. The Bush Administration just keeps sucking funding from critical government infrastructure to fund a needless war and needless programs.

The GAO summary reminds me of a bad CSI episode. They found a dead individual that had been in a vacant GSA facility for, not 3 hours, not 3 days but a full 3 months. This incident brings many questions to mind but first and foremost it points out that the facility was not secure and could have been utilized in a negative matter to harm surrounding facilities or area.

The report states that FPS relies heavily on local law enforcement to take up their slack but yet they don’t provide any additional funding as will be the case for the sites forced to house the NBAF.

I have spoken with members of local law enforcement and the lack of training with BSL 4 facilities will be an issue. The state of NC has forbidden state employees to provide comment on the NBAF issue. That alone should indicate there is a problem and it will rear it’s ugly head.

Below is a summary of the report:

In many federal facilities FPS is not currently providing proactive patrol to detect and prevent criminal incidents and terrorist attacks before they occur. The elimination of proactive patrol has a negative effect on security at federal buildings because law enforcement personnel cannot effectively monitor individuals surveilling federal buildings, inspect suspicious vehicles (including potential vehicles for bombing federal buildings), and detect and deter criminal activity in and around federal buildings.

According to many FPS officials at regions we visited, this has effectively limited its law enforcement personnel to a reactive force. In addition, FPS officials at several regions we visited said that proactive patrol has, in the past, allowed its officers and inspectors to identify and apprehend individuals that were surveilling federal facilities (potentially for use in a future attack). In contrast, when FPS is not able to patrol federal buildings, there is increased potential for illegal entry and other criminal activity at federal buildings. For example, at one city we visited, a deceased individual had been found in a vacant GSA facility that was not regularly patrolled by FPS. FPS officials stated that the deceased individual had been inside the building for approximately three months.

Reports issued by multiple government entities acknowledge the importance of proactive patrol in detecting and deterring terrorist surveillance teams, which frequently use information such as the placement of armed guards and proximity to law enforcement agency stations when choosing targets and planning attacks. These sophisticated surveillance and research techniques can potentially be derailed by active law enforcement patrols in and around federal facilities.

The level of physical protection services FPS provides at each building varies depending on the building’s security level. To determine a building’s security level, FPS uses the Department of Justice standards listed below.

  1. A level I facility has 10 or fewer federal employees, 2,500 or less square feet of office space and a low volume of public contact or contact with only a small segment of the population. A typical level I facility is a small storefront-type operation, such as a military recruiting office.
  2. A level II facility has between 11 and 150 federal employees, more than 2,500 to 80,000 square feet; a moderate volume of public contact; and federal activities that are routine in nature, similar to commercial activities.
  3. A level III facility has between 151 and 450 federal employees, more than 80,000 to 150,000 square feet and a moderate to high volume of public contact.
  4. A level IV facility has over 450 federal employees, more than 150,000 square feet; high volume of public contact; and tenant agencies that may include high-risk law enforcement and intelligence agencies, courts, judicial offices, and highly sensitive government records.
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According to officials at FPS, GSA, and tenant agencies in the regions we visited, many of the security countermeasures, such as security cameras, magnetometers, and x-ray machines at some facilities, as well as some FPS radios and building security assessment equipment, have been broken for months or years and are poorly maintained. At one level IV facility, FPS and GSA officials stated that only 11 of 150 security cameras were fully functional and able to record images. Similarly, at another level IV facility, a large camera project designed to expand and enhance an existing camera system was put on hold because FPS did not have the funds to complete the project. While ongoing, this project has not been completed.

 FPS officials stated that broken cameras and other security equipment can negate the deterrent effect of these countermeasures as well as eliminate their usefulness as an investigative tool. For example, according to FPS, at multiple level IV facilities it has investigated significant crimes, but the security cameras installed in those buildings were not working properly, preventing FPS investigators from identifying the suspects.

 

 

Entire report can be found here.

 

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