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Founding Fathers Finding Refuge

IF YOU'VE BEEN to the Lincoln Memorial recently, you've noticed that the epic grandeur of the edifice is aesthetically tainted by the presence of Jersey barriers lining the circular roadway that surrounds the memorial. Or maybe you recall the temporary security fencing that blighted the view of the Washington Monument.

Such measures were erected hastily after 9-11 while planners worked on designs for longer-term solutions that balance security with aesthetics. But some permanent security landscaping has been unveiled at the Washington Monument and similar upgrades are at various stages of completion at other venues along the Mall.

A review by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) suggests that the long-term plan is going well. In the report to Tom Davis, chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, the GAO's director of physical infrastructure issues, Mark L. Goldstein, notes that the federal government has done a good job of engaging stakeholders from the earliest design stages. For instance, the Smithsonian Institution consulted with various review organizations, such as the National Capital Planning Commission, before designing new perimeter security. When the designs were drafted, all the stakeholders offered favorable reviews.

Goldstein also reports that federal agencies used five of six practices that the GAO has identified as key to facilities protection: allocating resources using risk management; leveraging security technology; sharing information; managing performance; and managing human capital. None of the agencies on the Mall reported "aligning assets to mission," or reducing underused or excess facilities so as to lower vulnerabilities. No facilities were underused or superfluous, the agencies say.