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Homeland Security: Actions Needed to Better Protect National Icons and Federal Office Buildings from Terrorism

GAO-05-790 Published: Jun 24, 2005. Publicly Released: Jun 24, 2005.
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The threat of terrorism has made physical security for federal real property assets a major concern. Protecting these assets can be particularly complex and contentious for agencies whose missions include ensuring public access such as the Department of the Interior (Interior) and the General Services Administration (GSA). GAO's objectives were to (1) identify any challenges that Interior faces in protecting national icons and monuments from terrorism, as well as related actions intended to address these challenges; and similarly, (2) determine any challenges GSA faces related to the protection of federal office buildings it owns or leases and actions that have been taken.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of the Interior To ensure that useful information is available for decisions on resources for the protection of national icons and monuments, the Secretary of the Interior should link the results of the agency's risk assessments and related risk rankings to its funding priorities.
Closed – Implemented
According to Interior officials in February 2006, this recommendation has been implemented.
Department of the Interior Given the complex nature of the challenges Interior faces in protecting national icons and monuments, the Secretary of the Interior should also develop guiding principles for balancing security initiatives with Interior's core mission so that decision makers and stakeholders will have a clearer, more transparent understanding of Interior's rationale for security enhancements at individual assets.
Closed – Not Implemented
GAO's past discussions with Interior indicated that Interior felt that the intent of this recommendation was embedded in other efforts related to security. GAO considers the recommendation closed and not implemented.
General Services Administration The Administrator of GSA should establish a mechanism--such as a chief security officer position or formal point of contact--that could serve in a liaison role with FPS and tenant agencies, work to address the challenges GSA faces related to security in buildings it owns and leases, and enable GSA to define its overall role in security given the transfer of FPS to DHS.
Closed – Implemented
GSA has established this position and filled it.

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CounterterrorismFacility securityJersey barriersFederal office buildingsFederal propertyHistoric preservationHomeland securityNational parksPhysical securityPolicy evaluationReal propertyRecreation areasTerrorism