WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation to improve security for federal employees and members of the public who use federal buildings every day. From domestic violent extremists to foreign adversaries, federal facilities face a wide range of threats: active shooters, cyber-attacks, hostile surveillance, improvised explosive devices, and more. The bill would require federal agencies to respond to the Federal Protective Service (FPS) recommendations on security measures issued within 90 days. The bill follows a hearing Chairman Peters convened 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.
“Federal buildings across the country serve as workplaces for federal employees and host daily visitors who come to access critical federal services,” said Senator Peters. “As federal buildings continue to face threats, my bipartisan bill will help ensure federal agencies are following the most up-to-date security recommendations to protect both these buildings and the people in them.”
Senator Rick Scott said, “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.”
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.
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.