Chances are when you entered your federal office this morning, you passed by a private-sector security guard.
Although the Federal Protective Service is charged with protecting employees and visitors at roughly 9,000 federal buildings nationwide, the agency largely relies on contract security guards to get the job done: 15,000 guards to be precise, compared to just 1,225 FPS officers, investigators and administrative staff.
The House Homeland Security Committee is debating whether that needs to change. Specifically, the committee will hold a hearing tomorrow morning to debate whether federal guards would provide better security than contract workers.
A series of eye-opening reports from the Government Accountability Office issued in the past year have found that contract guards generally are doing a poor job. In one instance, undercover investigators were able to smuggle bomb-making components into 10 high-security federal buildings.
Still, federalizing the security force could prove difficult. The Congressional Research Service, in a report to lawmakers, noted that increasing the number of FPS officers could strain the agency’s already tight budget by increasing the amount of personnel benefits afforded to employees.
What do you think? Should Congress federalize the building security force, much like it did to airport screeners in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks? Or would taxpayer dollars be better spent by beefing up FPS’ ability to oversee the contract guards? Sound off below.