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.

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