Key Issues > Duplication & Cost Savings > GAO's Action Tracker > Security of Federal Facilities (2016-09)
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Homeland Security/Law Enforcement: Security of Federal Facilities (2016-09)

Federal agencies need to improve collaboration in key areas to better manage fragmentation and enhance their ability to protect federal facilities.

Action:

The Federal Protective Service (FPS) and the General Services Administration (GSA) should establish a plan with time frames for reaching agreement on a joint strategy and finalizing it in order to define and articulate a common understanding of expected outcomes and align the two agencies' activities and core processes.

Progress:

In 2018, FPS and GSA finalized the revision to their memorandum of agreement, which included identifying, defining, and addressing roles and responsibilities and operational relationships between FPS and GSA concerning the protection of federally owned and leased buildings, ground, and property under the jurisdiction, custody, or control of GSA, as GAO recommended in December 2015. As of January 2020, both agencies reported that a joint strategy has been developed and is awaiting final agency approval. GAO will review the joint strategy once finalized. Joint strategies help align partner agencies' activities, core processes, and resources to accomplish a common outcome. The continuing lack of agreement on common security outcomes and strategies could limit FPS's and GSA's ability to fully protect federal facilities and their tenants and visitors.

Implementing Entity:

Federal Protective Service, General Services Administration

Action:

The Federal Protective Service (FPS) and the General Services Administration (GSA) should establish a plan with time frames for reaching agreement on the two agencies’ respective roles and responsibilities for federal facility security, and update and finalize the two agencies’ memorandum of agreement (MOA) accordingly.

Progress:

FPS and GSA updated and finalized their MOA in 2018, which included identifying, defining, and addressing roles and responsibilities and operational relationships between FPS and GSA concerning the protection of federally owned and leased buildings, ground, and property under the jurisdiction, custody, or control of GSA, as GAO recommended in December 2015. Agreeing on roles and responsibilities that are consistent with the two agencies' related agency goals and missions and finalizing an MOA to align their efforts should help FPS and GSA improve their working relationship and enhance the agencies' ability to protect federal facilities.

Implementing Entity:

Federal Protective Service, General Services Administration

Action:

The Federal Protective Service (FPS) and the General Services Administration (GSA) should develop a process to ensure that compatible policies and procedures are communicated at the regional level so that regional officials at both agencies have common information.

Progress:

In 2018, FPS and GSA finalized the revision to their memorandum of agreement, which included identifying, defining, and addressing roles and responsibilities and operational relationships between FPS and GSA concerning the protection of federally owned and leased buildings, ground, and property under the jurisdiction, custody, or control of GSA, as GAO recommended in December 2015. As of January 2020, both agencies reported that this recommendation would be addressed through a joint strategy which has been developed and is awaiting final agency approval. This recommendation remains open pending agencies finalizing the strategy and reaching an agreement on a process for communicating policies and procedures. The lack of collaboration in communicating compatible policies and procedures makes it difficult for the agencies to effectively implement their security mission and can negatively affect day-to-day operations.

Implementing Entity:

Federal Protective Service, General Services Administration

Action:

The Federal Protective Service (FPS) and the General Services Administration (GSA) should develop mechanisms to monitor, evaluate, and report on their collaborative efforts to protect federal facilities in order to identify possible areas for improvement and to reinforce accountability.

Progress:

In 2018, FPS and GSA finalized the revision to their memorandum of agreement, which included identifying, defining, and addressing roles and responsibilities and operational relationships between FPS and GSA concerning the protection of federally owned and leased buildings, ground, and property under the jurisdiction, custody, or control of GSA, as GAO recommended in December 2015. As of January 2020, both agencies reported that this recommendation would be addressed through a joint strategy which has been developed and is awaiting final agency approval. This recommendation remains open pending agencies finalizing the strategy and reaching agreed upon mechanisms to monitor, evaluate, and report on their collaborative efforts, as GAO recommended in December 2015. Developing mechanisms for these purposes will help facilitate agency accountability and ensure that FPS's and GSA's related missions are accomplished.

Implementing Entity:

Federal Protective Service, General Services Administration

Action:

The General Services Administration—in conjunction with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Federal Protective Service—should establish a national-level working group or similar forum, consisting of leadership designees with decision-making authority, to meet regularly to address courthouse security issues.

Progress:

In June 2018, GAO confirmed that these agencies had established a national-level forum for courthouse security, as GAO recommended in February 2017. The agencies provided evidentiary documentation to show they had established the forum, known as the Interagency Judicial Security Council. It is chaired by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and consists of senior executives from each agency who make decisions about courthouse security, as well as other subject-matter experts from each agency. The council established a regular meeting schedule and is working to finalize a charter. With the establishment of the council, the four agencies will be better positioned to comprehensively share information and address the challenges that affect courthouse security.

Implementing Entity:

General Services Administration