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Highlights

The Federal Protective Service (FPS), as part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for providing security services to about 9,000 federal facilities. In recent years, FPS downsized its workforce from 1,400 to about 1,000 full-time employees. In 2008, GAO expressed concerns about the impact that downsizing had on FPS's mission, and in fiscal years 2008 and 2009 Congress mandated FPS maintain no fewer than 1,200 employees. GAO was asked to determine the extent to which (1) FPS has hired and trained new staff to address its mandated staffing levels, (2) FPS has developed a strategic human capital plan to manage its current and future workforce needs, and (3) FPS's customers are satisfied with the services it provides. To address these objectives, we reviewed relevant laws and documents, interviewed officials from FPS and other federal agencies, and conducted a generalizable survey of FPS's customers.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security To facilitate effective strategic management of its workforce, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Director of FPS to improve how FPS headquarters collects data on its workforce's knowledge, skills, and abilities to help it better manage and understand current and future workforce needs.
Closed - Implemented
In 2009, we reported that the Federal Protective Service (FPS) does not collect data on its workforce's knowledge, skills, and abilities. Consequently, FPS cannot determine what its optimal staffing levels should be or identify gaps in its workforce needs and determine how to modify its workforce planning strategies to fill these gaps. Effective workforce planning requires consistent agencywide data on the critical skills needed to achieve current and future programmatic goals and objectives. In response to our recommendation that FPS improve how the agency collects workforce data, in October 2012, FPS issued its Interim Strategic Human Capital Plan reinforces the importance of the collection of workforce data. FPS also requires the development of individual development and career development plans that will provide the details needed to identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities of its staff. Thus, FPS is in a better position to collect workforce data to determine the critical skills and competencies needed to achieve current and future programmatic goals.
Department of Homeland Security To facilitate effective strategic management of its workforce, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Director of FPS to use these data in the development and implementation of a long-term strategic human capital plan that addresses key principles for effective strategic workforce planning, including establishing programs, policies, and practices that will enable the agency to recruit, develop, and retain a qualified workforce.
Closed - Implemented
We reported in 2009 that the Federal Protective Service (FPS) does not have a strategic human capital plan to guide its current and future workforce planning efforts, including effective processes for training, retention, and staff development. The lack of a human capital plan has contributed to inconsistent approaches in how FPS regions and headquarters are managing human capital activities. For example, FPS officials in some of the regions GAO visited said they implement their own procedures for managing their workforce, including processes for performance feedback, training, and mentoring. These elements are necessary for successful workforce planning activities, such as identifying and filling skill gaps and succession planning. Thus, we recommended that FPS develop and implement a strategic human capital plan that addresses key principles for effective strategic workforce planning. In October 2012, FPS issued its Interim Strategic Human Capital Plan that, among other things, addresses workforce planning, knowledge, and management. As a result, FPS is in a better position to begin aligning its personnel with its programmatic goals.
Federal Protective Service To improve service to all of its customers, FPS should collect and maintain an accurate and comprehensive list of all facility-designated points of contact, as well as a system for regularly updating this list.
Closed - Implemented
We reported in 2009 that although the Federal Protective Service (FPS) is responsible for protecting over 9,000 federal facilities, it does not have complete and accurate customer contact data. During the course of our review, we found that approximately 53 percent of the e-mail addresses and 27 percent of the telephone numbers for designated points of contacts were missing from FPS's contact database. Complete and accurate contact information for its customers is critical for information sharing and an essential component of any customer service initiative. Thus, we recommended that FPS collect and maintain an accurate and comprehensive list of all facility designated points of contact, as well as a system for regularly updating this list. In March 2013, FPS reported that it is working with the General Services Administration and tenant agencies to collect and maintain point of contact information for each of its 9,000 facilities. FPS's efforts to improve the accuracy of its contact information should, among other things, enhance the agency's ability to notify designated agency officials in the event of an emergency at their facility.
Federal Protective Service To improve service to all of its customers, FPS should develop and implement a program for education and outreach to all customers to ensure they are aware of the current roles, responsibilities, and services provided by FPS.
Closed - Implemented
We reported in 2009 that the Federal Protective Service (FPS) customers spent approximately $187 million in fiscal year 2008 for physical security and law enforcement services. However, our generalizable survey of FPS customers, showed that a majority of the customers are unaware of or do not use the services they are paying FPS to provide. For example, about 82 percent of FPS's customers primarily rely on other agencies such as local law enforcement as their primary provider in emergency situations. Our survey also found that many FPS customers were also unclear of its roles and responsibilities. Thus, we recommended that FPS develop and implement a program for education and outreach to all customers to ensure they are aware of the current roles, responsibilities, and services provided by FPS. In January 2013, FPS appointed a Policy and Planning Directorate who developed and implemented an outreach strategy for ensuring that FPS's clients and stakeholders are aware of the agency's current roles, responsibilities, and services. As a result, FPS's customers will have a better understanding of FPS's services.

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