Homeland Security: Transformation Strategy Needed to Address Challenges Facing the Federal Protective Service

GAO-04-537 Published: Jul 14, 2004. Publicly Released: Aug 16, 2004.
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With responsibility for protecting thousands of federal facilities, the Federal Protective Service (FPS), which transferred from the General Services Administration (GSA) to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in March 2003, plays a critical role in the federal government's defense against the threat of terrorism and other criminal activity. GAO was asked to determine what challenges, if any, FPS faces now that it has been transferred from GSA to DHS.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Directorate of Border and Transportation Security The Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Director of FPS--in consultation with the Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security and the Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement--to develop and implement a transformation strategy that reflects FPS's consideration of key practices and addresses the significant challenges it is facing. In particular, this strategy should identify implementation goals, measures, and a timeline that FPS could use to show progress toward its transformation and demonstrate that it is accomplishing its mission while undergoing changes. It should also link FPS's goals and measures to the broader goals and objectives contained in DHS's strategic plan and to DHS's ongoing integration efforts. In serving as a road map for FPS's transformation, such a strategy should be used by FPS as a platform to identify strategies and proposals for addressing the significant challenges that we identified--expanding mission and increased responsibility, unresolved issues related to funding, and mission-support challenges related to the eventual transfer of these functions from GSA to DHS.
Closed – Implemented
FPS has developed a strategic plan in response to our recommendation.
Directorate of Border and Transportation Security The Secretary of Homeland Security should initiate a dialogue with GSA aimed at resolving disagreement between DHS and GSA about whether FPS has the authority to bill GSA's tenant agencies for security services. If this issue cannot be resolved, DHS should seek resolution from OMB or the Treasury.
Closed – Implemented
DHS has initiated a dialogue with GSA on this issue. However, according to DHS, the billing issue may not be completely resolved until 2007.
Directorate of Border and Transportation Security The Secretary of Homeland Security should take immediate steps to ensure that funds collected from agency rents and fees are used in the future solely for the protection of buildings and grounds owned or occupied by the federal government. If FPS continues its involvement in activities not directly related to facility protection, a funding process would be needed that is consistent with the requirement regarding the use of funds from agency rents and fees. In addition, a means of tracking these activities and determining related costs would also be needed.
Closed – Implemented
According to DHS, in September 2005, FPS issued guidance to its Regional Directors to not engage in activities not directly related to the protection of federal facilities unless a reimbursable agreement was in place. Also, according to DHS, FPS has instituted a procedure for tracking the cost associated with reimbursed services and the processing of the Security Work Authorizations.
Directorate of Border and Transportation Security The Secretary of Homeland Security should ensure that DHS is prepared to effectively integrate FPS mission-support functions before these functions are transferred from GSA, even if it is necessary to extend the September 2004 goal for the transfer.
Closed – Implemented
According to DHS, the transition of support services from GSA to DHS was nearly complete in March 2005.

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