Committee Passes Peters and Scott Bipartisan Bill to Help Secure Federal Facilities from Unauthorized Access

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rick Scott (R-FL) to help ensure federal agencies are better able to prevent unauthorized access to buildings leased by the federal government has advanced in the Senate. The bill would require the federal government to assess whether property located near federally leased space could provide opportunities for espionage attempts, cyber-attacks, or unauthorized access. The legislation builds off of a law authored by Peters in 2020 that required the federal government to determine if office space it leases is owned by foreign entities. The bill was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee where Peters serves as Chair. It now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

“Federal agencies often store sensitive materials at office buildings. Ensuring that the government is aware of security threats surrounding these physical spaces will help strengthen national security and prevent attempts by foreign adversaries and other malicious actors to steal this critical information,” said Senator Peters.

“Our national security should always be a top priority. This bill will help ensure federal government leased spaces are better protected from our adversaries who are trying to hurt us,” said Senator Scott. “We must do all we can to prevent attacks and protect our critical infrastructure from espionage.”

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has repeatedly raised concerns that federal agencies are vulnerable to espionage and other intrusions because individuals could exploit security loopholes to gain unauthorized access to spaces used for classified operations or to store sensitive data. The senators’ legislation would ensure there is government-wide guidance for agencies to ensure spaces located near high-security leased federal properties do not pose a threat to the safety and security of sensitive materials.   

The Secure Adjacent Federal Property Act would require the General Services Administration (GSA) to coordinate an interagency study with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Federal Protective Service (FPS), and other relevant federal agencies to establish a security assessment process on space adjacent to high-security space leased by the federal government. The process would be used to screen for potential risks in occupancies and help secure sensitive office space.