Guards fail to keep guns out of government buildings


One might assume that the government has it under control when it comes to keeping weapons out of its facilities, right? Well, apparently it just ain't so.

The Government Accountability Office just released a report that guards allowed prohibited items -- such as guns, knives and bombs -- into federal facilities two-thirds of the time in tests conducted by the Federal Protective Service, according to this Washington Post piece.

Maybe you missed that figure: Two-thirds of the time. Wow.

And it gets worse. The article says that guards also didn't seem to know what to do when they managed to stop a tester who was trying to sneak in some contraband. Didn't know what to do? I haven't taken any guard training courses, but I'm pretty sure the key is not to let them in.

The article blames some of these issues on the fact that many of the guards are contracted and that the Federal Protective Service (they're the agency in charge of the guards and conducted the tests) hasn't done a good job of tracking training and regulations for guards. Here are a few highlights for your reading pleasure:

-- Some contractors didn't comply with the terms of their contracts, and the FPS took no action against them. The GAO said the agency did nothing to seven contract companies who employed guards with expired certification and training requirements.

-- The agency apparently can't determine which guards have complied with requirements because, the report says, "FPS currently does not have a fully reliable system for monitoring and verifying whether its 15,000 guards have the certifications and training to stand post at federal facilities."

-- The FPS doesn't always evaluate guards properly. Not only did the seven contractors escape any sanction for not fulfilling the terms of their contracts, but the FPS also gave them ratings of satisfactory or better.

-- The FPS hasn't provided some guards with the required training on X-ray or magnetometer machines that are used to detect weapons. In July 2009, the GAO reported that 1,500 guards had not received the 16 hours of required training. As of February, they still had not, according to the GAO, although the FPS says they will by December.

Of course, the report doesn't name any of the contractors, but I would be interested to know because they certainly aren't making those in the guarding industry look very good. Shame on them.


Let's be fair. The Congress has continually cut funding for the FPS over the past two decades until they don't have the manpower to do even make a pretex of doing a competent job.

When I first had contact with the FPS in 1980 they had a fully manned regional security control center here in Kansas City that monitored the CCTV, intrusion alarm and access control systems in every major government building in about a four state region. That region included both the Missouri and Kansas sides of the Kansas City Metro and the Missouri and Illinois sides of the St. Louis Metro. My last contact with them identified that the control center is closed and the electronics turned off because FPS doesn't have the funding to support them. Also in 1980 every contract security officer in the Metro areas could pretty well count on a FPS post inspection during their shift, now they are lucky to see a post inspector once a week.

As in private industry, when a GSA facility manager has to make a cut, security is the first thing that gets wacked.

[...] charged with protecting federal buildings were doing a piss-poor job? No? Well here’s a blog I wrote in April to jog the old [...]