Union: Contractors weaken Federal Protective Service, placing feds at risk

Too much contracting, too little funding for security could lead to another devastating attack reminiscent of Oklahoma City

Federal building security is just not what it should be. So says yet another federal employees’ union, 15 years after terrorist Timothy McVeigh destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Building with a truck bomb, killing 168 and injuring nearly 700.

The union that represents the Federal Protective Service tasked with guarding federal buildings recently reiterated to Federal Daily, an 1105 Government Information Group site, its continuing concerns about FPS’s less-than-optimal security software and other potential security weaknesses.

Since that time, the leadership of the 150,000-strong National Treasury Employees Union—pointing to recent tragic attacks on federal buildings—also has complained, telling Congress that FPS relies far too much on private contractors armed with too little training, too little funding, and too little proper management to actually carry out its mission.

“Attacks on Internal Revenue Service offices in Austin, Texas, and shootings at a Las Vegas federal courthouse and at the Pentagon have once again raised concerns about the vulnerability of federal buildings and the safety and security of federal employees who work in them around the country,” NTEU President Colleen Kelley told the House Homeland Security Committee on April 15. “These attacks, in which two federal employees were killed and several others seriously injured, serve as a grim reminder of the great risk that federal employees face each and every day in service to this country.”

Kelley noted that the FPS staff workforce has been cut by 15 percent since fiscal 2004—and now stands at just 1,200 employees. Meanwhile, the number of contractor guards that the small core of employees must manage has shot up 300 percent, leaping from 5,000 up to 15,000 in number.

The House committee is studying the idea of increasing the number of federal employees and slashing the number of contractors who stand watch over the nation’s 9,000 federally owned or leased offices—facilities that see traffic of more than one million tenants and visitors each day, NTEU said.

“NTEU believes these drastic cuts to the FPS workforce and explosion in the number of contract security guards have led directly to shortfalls in contract and guard management and performance,” Kelley said.

For more, go to: www.nteu.org.

About the Author

Federal Daily, an 1105 Government Information Group site, features news and resources for federal and postal employees.

Reader Comments

Sun, Jan 2, 2011 Oklahoma Division

In our region, FPS works well with the PSO's who are union. The security officers too, shoot the same FPS handgun ( semi-auto pistol ) course of fire, with a minimal qualifying score of 80%, and we have had no officers to date fail this standard of qualification. Our region may be an exception to what's occuring in other regions. PSO's in region 7 must re-certify annually in CPR, twice a year with the semi-auto pistol, tri-annually in first Aid and SGIM. The majority are certified Mag / X-ray operators. We have a good team of officers, and relationship with FPS. PSO's are under direct supervison of a security contractor who works professionally with FPS and the union. Sorry to hear our brothers are having difficult time on the job !

Thu, May 27, 2010

It's too bad Mr. Schenkel had to take the fall for the poor performing agency he was trying to fix. This agency was a mess before Mr. Schenkel arrived and it will be a mess after the next Director is fired. Until the LEO's realize they are not in law enforcement, but rather security, and the Union quits complaining and starts working, the place will continue to be a mess. Right now I have much more faith in the "rent-a-cops" than I do in the FPS LEO's!

Fri, May 14, 2010

having worked in construction and now as a Federal Security Guard most union members i have come across are more concerned about making sure that they get their union mandated breaks and doing as little as possible. subcontractors can fire and hire their employees at will which makes the quality of work from these employees much higher.no hearings with the union, no reps fighting for union workers jobs. if you are not preforming up to standards you are simply shown the door with the contractor knowing that they have 25 other highly qualified candidates waiting in the wings.the current fear mongering is a sad attempt for high ranking union members to pad their pockets.

Thu, May 13, 2010

Tell me why I have 4 FPS LES's coming to the same site on the same shift checking the same officers' credentials. Not to mention I have seen the Cred's that the LEO's have and guess what "there expired". What creds are you talking about? The LEO cred that gives authority itself has no expiration date.

Mon, May 10, 2010

I am a contract guard in a Federal Government Building located in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area and we are losing our jobs because we are required to qualify with our weapons the same as the FPS LEO's the difference is FPS LEO's actually get weapon training we don't. Why should a Contract Guard lose their job because DHS takes the word of the Contract Companies advising we have been trained. If we are trained then explain how and why 25 people go for qualification and 1 passes. You tell me is the guards or is it the instructors? Why do the instructors inform us while attending a practice provided by the Company that for a small fee they could train us. Why are their "instructors" hanging out at the range waiting for us to fail then they hand us a business card and again for a fee of $150 they could train us. We are set up to fail so as the instructors make more money that is the truth behind us NOT being properly trained. So instead of wasting all of the money that it takes for "Operation Shield" why not put your LEO's to work and have them train us properly. Tell me why I have 4 FPS LES's coming to the same site on the same shift checking the same officers' credentials. Not to mention I have seen the Cred's that the LEO's have and guess what "there expired". You tell me what is REALLY going on here. Looks like a real waste of tax payer's money. DHS needs to stop blaming FPS and open up their eyes and see where the problem really begins... AT HOME, Homeland that is. All Contract Guards are NOT Rent a Cops, some of us are serious about their position and go beyond the call of duty. We are the ones on the front line that are here to protect FPS LEO's and other Federal Police Officers. Look around we sit at the front doors, not the Federal Police Officers. Let's stop pointing the finger and fix the broken wheel before it cost too many more innocent people their lives. Let's get the necessary training so the Contract Guards can do their jobs right. Oh lets not forget DHS trains on the X-ray machines but doesn't find it necessary to TRAIN US WITH A LOADED 9MM GUN!!

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