The Federal Protective Service (FPS), part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is tasked with providing security and law enforcement services to some 8,800 facilities owned or leased by the Government Services Administration (GSA) at which some 1 million people work. In 2007, it had a work force of 1100 (down from 1400 in 2004). Of these, 756 were inspectors or police officers. It also employs some 15,000 contract guards who are used primarily in fixed post and gate positions. Most have no anti-terrorism training and do not have the authority to arrest or detain anyone. It is FPS policy to move to an all contract work force supervised by a few inspectors. Already at most locations, the FPS has no means of forestalling or preventing a crime and can only respond to one after it has occurred. Hours of operation have been reduced. Security equipment has not been maintained. There is no oversight of contract workers or means to address poor performance by them. In one instance a homeless person was found incidentally in a FPS protected building 3 months after dying. In another a $500,000 surveillance trailer was stolen. The theft was caught on security cameras while guards were on duty but was not reported until 3 days later and only after the agency which owned the trailer had begun making inquiries.
FPS says that it is increasingly relying on local police departments to perform its functions but has not completed any agreement with a department to that effect. Many local departments don’t know this because the FPS has never told them. Some when informed of the FPS’ intentions said that they would refuse to take on the extra responsibility. How this would work is unclear. Questions of local versus federal jurisdiction have been left hanging.
Additionally, the FPS has been chronically underfunded since its move from GSA to DHS in 2003. To make up for the shortfalls, staff and training have been reduced. This has led to poor morale, a high attrition rate in FPS personnel, and a loss of institutional memory.
Privatization of security, generalized disorganization, underfunding, ineffectiveness, and incompetence, all of which put federal facilities at risk, it is classic Michael Chertoff and another of his DHS follies.