WASHINGTON— The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday agreed by unanimous voice vote to report out legislation to strengthen the security of visitors and employees at 9,000 federal buildings across the United States.
The Committee also reported out a measure to require federal agencies to set clear performance goals to be measured and reported to Congress, providing taxpayers additional ways to hold their government accountable.
“Our bipartisan bill will modernize and reform an important, but often overlooked agency at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Protective Service (FPS),” Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., said. “The FPS is responsible for the security of employees and visitors at 9,000 federal buildings across the country. But its mission is in peril due to budget shortfalls, mismanagement of the agency and its contract guard workforce, and multiple operational challenges. A series of reports from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the DHS Inspector General have found FPS to be a seriously dysfunctional agency that lacks focus or a strategy for accomplishing its mission.
“The people—not just employees, but millions of visitors—who enter federal buildings each year deserve better protection. Our bill provides that by ensuring that FPS has sufficient staff to carry out its mission, by tackling deficiencies within the contract guard program, by ensuring FPS is ready to take on the threat of explosives, and by striking a good balance between both public access and security.”
Collins said: “The current situation at FPS is a disaster waiting to happen. Independent investigations of FPS by the Government Accountability Office and Department of Homeland Security Inspector General have discovered pervasive security gaps, lax oversight, inadequate training, and systemic operational flaws. The findings were so alarming that the Chairman and I labeled the agency’s overall work a ‘security crisis.’” In one case, Collins said, GAO investigators were able to smuggle simulated bombs into 10 high-risk federal buildings, penetrating the security systems of all 10 buildings selected.
“The bipartisan legislation before us today is the solution to this security crisis,” she said.
The Supporting Employee Competency and Updating Readiness Enhancements for (SECURE) Facilities Act of 2010, S. 3806, was approved unanimously by voice vote as amended by a substitute amendment from Lieberman, Collins, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia Chairman Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, and Ranking Member George Voinovich, R-Ohio.
The Government Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Performance Improvement Act of 2010, H.R. 2142, was also approved by voice vote, as amended by a substitute amendment from Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management Chairman Tom Carper, D-Del., Lieberman, Collins, Akaka, and Voinovich.
Other legislation reported out of the Committee en bloc:
· The nomination of Maria Elizabeth Raffinan to be Associate Judge, D.C. Superior Court
· The Formerly Owned Resources for Veterans to Express Thanks for Service (FOR VETS) Act of 2010, S. 3794
· A bill to designate the facility of the U.S. Postal Service located at 4285 Payne Avenue in San Jose, California as the “Anthony J. Cortese Post Office Building,” H.R. 4543
· A bill to designate the facility of the U.S. Postal Service located at 100 Orndorf Drive in Brighton, Michigan, as the “Joyce Rogers Post Office Building,” H.R. 5341
· A bill to designate the facility of the U.S. Postal Service located at 13301 Smith Road in Cleveland, Ohio, as the “David John Donafee Post Office Building,” H.R. 5390
· A bill to designate the facility of the U.S. Postal Service located at 3894 Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles, California, as the “Tom Bradley Post Office Building,” H.R. 5450