Richardson Moves to Tighten Security at Federal Buildings

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Congresswoman Laura Richardson

Congresswoman Laura Richardson (CA-37) introduced two amendments to the Federal Protective Service Reform and Enhancement Act that would improve and increase safety standards at Federal facilities across the country. The first outlines stricter background check requirements for contracted facility security guards and the second establishes a toll-free hotline for facility tenets and visitors to anonymously report security violations and suspicious activities.

“From 9/11 to the most recent tragedy in Norway, we know all too well that government buildings and other facilities are prime targets for those who wish to do our nation harm,” said Congresswoman Richardson. “The Federal Protective Service works hard each day to keep our citizens safe, but with just 15,000 contracted guards for more than 9,000 facilities, resources are stretched thin and security lapses need to be addressed. These amendments will allow us to do just that by ensuring that relaxed background checks are not exploited by terrorists to gain access to government facilities and that those who make use of the facilities have a clear means to report security issues they witness and be a part of the solution.”

Currently, FPS relies on the contract companies that provide security guards to perform the necessary background examinations of its employees, but specific parameters of the checks were not clearly defined. The amendment proposed by Congresswoman Richardson would require these examinations to include, at minimum, a check against Federal criminal history databases, the consolidated terrorist watchlist, and, when necessary, relevant immigration databases that will ensure an applicant can legally work in the United States.

In addition to ensuring FPS contract employees meet strict background checks, Congresswoman Richardson proposed an amendment that will encourage these same employees, as well as tenants and visitors of FPS protected facilities, to report security violations, security lapses, and other suspicious activity through a toll-free anonymous tip line. The Department of Homeland Security and the New York Police Department have both embraced a similar approach to security matters with great success.

In a meeting earlier today, both amendments received wide bipartisan support and were passed unanimously by the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies.

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