WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), and Rick Scott (R-FL) to improve security for federal employees and members of the public who use federal buildings has advanced in the Senate. Every day, federal facilities face a wide range of threats, including active shooters, cyber-attacks, hostile surveillance, improvised explosive devices, and more. This legislation requires federal agencies to respond to the Federal Protective Service (FPS) recommendations on security measures issued within 90 days. 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 buildings across the nation house federal employees dedicated to serving the American people and host countless Americans who are accessing critical government services,” said Senator Peters. “This bill will help ensure federal agencies are following the most up-to-date security recommendations to protect both these facilities and the people in them.”
“This good legislation will make sure that when the Federal Protective Service makes safety recommendations for federal offices and buildings, they are quickly reviewed and taken into consideration. Federal agencies must do everything necessary to serve the American people while keeping public servants safe. I applaud the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for the passage of this important legislation and urge its immediate passage on the Senate floor.” said Senator Rick Scott.
More than 9,000 federal facilities hosting 1.4 million employees and countless visitors are protected by the FPS of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). While FPS plays a key role in keeping federal facilities safe, agencies can be vulnerable to security threats when they do not adopt FPS’ facility security recommendations. In fiscal years 2017 through 2021, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that FPS submitted over 25,000 facility security recommendations, yet agency facility security committees completely ignored 57 percent of those recommendations. When agencies did acknowledge the FPS guidance– they only implemented 27 percent of the recommended security measures. Chairman Peters convened a hearing in November on the growing threats to federal buildings where witnesses testified that agencies are currently ignoring more than half of FPS recommendations to improve building security.
The bipartisan Improving Federal Building Security Act will require federal agencies to adequately respond to security recommendations issued by FPS within 90 days. Agencies may choose to adopt or reject FPS recommendations. However, agencies must provide an explanation to DHS detailing the reasons for any rejected recommendations. The legislation also requires DHS to develop a method to monitor the responses to FPS security assessments and take reasonable actions to ensure agency responses, holding agencies accountable to adopting sound, defensible security decisions. DHS would report annually to Congress on agency responses to FPS security assessments, which would provide a regular snapshot of the threat and security landscape.