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Senate to Move Fast on Federal Building Security in Report's Aftermath

07/14/2009 -Legislation that would modernize the Federal Protective Service (FPS) should be completed soon, after a government report detailed how easy it is to bring bomb-making materials into a federal building and build an explosive device undetected by security,according to The Washington Post's Federal Eye blog.

By the end of July, lawmakers expect to see draft legislation that proposes a "fairly significant" modernization of FPS, according to congressional aides. The bill is likely to give Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano new marching orders on how to reshape the agency. As of this writing, however, it is unclear whether the bill will propose federalizing all or some of the approximately 13,000 private security contractors employed by FPS.

Conversations in recent days with private guards and union leaders for the 1,200 FPS employees indicate that federalization may be the only way to solve the agency's woes. They suggest that government-issued training standards, security procedures and pay scales would boost guard morale and remove the stigma of any agency relegated to second-class status.

The head of the union that represents FPS guards, David Wright, president of AFGE Local 918, told Federal Eye that it was a mistake for the Bush administration to put the FPS underneath the aegis of Customs and Border Protection within the Department of Homeland Security. Wright said that the CBP's upper management neglects building security.

Last week, the Government Accountability Officereported that investigators sneaked bomb-making materials past securitycheckpoints at high-security federal buildings, constructed the explosive devices in bathrooms, and then walked around building hallways with the fake bomb hidden in a briefcase without being stopped by FPS guards.

♦ Photo byThomas_Hawk/Flickr