Oil Reserves:

Proposed DOE Legislation for Firearm and Arrest Authority Has Merit

RCED-87-178: Published: Aug 11, 1987. Publicly Released: Dec 1, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the kinds of security systems in place at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), security clearance procedures, and the adequacy of the physical security system. In addition, GAO commented on legislation that the Department of Energy (DOE) proposed to grant firearm and arrest authority to SPR security personnel.

GAO found that there was no uniform framework for guard services for all SPR sites and facilities. Uniform authority would: (1) provide the same arrest authority for guards serving at both sites; (2) allow the security services contractor to move guard personnel among sites with no loss of authority; and (3) resolve the question of security guards' personal liability for actions taken in the line of duty. GAO supported the proposed legislation, but noted that DOE is using subcontractor personnel to protect SPR facilities and the legislation may be ambiguous as to whether DOE can extend firearm and arrest authority to subcontractor employees.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Public Law 100-531, October 25, 1988, authorizes security personnel of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to carry firearms and make warrantless arrests under guidelines prescribed by the Secretary of Energy.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should request the cognizant House committees to revise the proposed legislation to make explicit the right to grant firearm and arrest authority to SPR subcontractor, DOE, and contractor personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy


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