Homeland Security:

Actions Needed to Better Protect National Icons and Federal Office Buildings from Terrorism

GAO-05-790: Published: Jun 24, 2005. Publicly Released: Jun 24, 2005.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Mark L. Goldstein
(202) 512-3000
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

The threat of terrorism has made physical security for federal real property assets a major concern. Protecting these assets can be particularly complex and contentious for agencies whose missions include ensuring public access such as the Department of the Interior (Interior) and the General Services Administration (GSA). GAO's objectives were to (1) identify any challenges that Interior faces in protecting national icons and monuments from terrorism, as well as related actions intended to address these challenges; and similarly, (2) determine any challenges GSA faces related to the protection of federal office buildings it owns or leases and actions that have been taken.

Interior faces a range of major challenges in protecting national icons and monuments from terrorism--these include balancing security and public access; addressing jurisdictional and competing stakeholder issues; and securing assets in rugged, remote areas. In addition, there was concern among Interior officials about the department's ability to leverage limited resources for security. Since September 11, 2001, Interior has improved security at high-profile sites, created a central security office to oversee its security efforts, developed physical security plans required by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7, and developed a uniform risk management and ranking methodology. As Interior moves forward, linking the results of its risk rankings to security funding priorities at national icons and monuments is an important next step. Also, given Interior's complex and often contentious environment, setting forth the guiding principles by which the department balances its core mission with security could have benefits. Other organizations have used guiding principles to foster greater transparency in complex environments. GSA also faces a range of major challenges, some similar to Interior's, that include balancing security and public access, addressing jurisdictional and competing stakeholder issues, securing federally leased space, and adjusting to the transfer of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) from GSA to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Actions GSA has taken to address the challenges include working to develop security standards for securing leased space and establishing a memorandum of agreement with DHS on security at GSA's facilities. However, despite these actions, GSA lacks a mechanism--such as a chief security officer position or formal point of contact--that could serve in a liaison role with FPS and tenant agencies, work to address the challenges GSA faces related to security at its buildings, and enable GSA to better define its overall role in security given the transfer of FPS to DHS.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To ensure that useful information is available for decisions on resources for the protection of national icons and monuments, the Secretary of the Interior should link the results of the agency's risk assessments and related risk rankings to its funding priorities.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to Interior officials in February 2006, this recommendation has been implemented.

    Recommendation: Given the complex nature of the challenges Interior faces in protecting national icons and monuments, the Secretary of the Interior should also develop guiding principles for balancing security initiatives with Interior's core mission so that decision makers and stakeholders will have a clearer, more transparent understanding of Interior's rationale for security enhancements at individual assets.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: GAO's past discussions with Interior indicated that Interior felt that the intent of this recommendation was embedded in other efforts related to security. GAO considers the recommendation closed and not implemented.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of GSA should establish a mechanism--such as a chief security officer position or formal point of contact--that could serve in a liaison role with FPS and tenant agencies, work to address the challenges GSA faces related to security in buildings it owns and leases, and enable GSA to define its overall role in security given the transfer of FPS to DHS.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA has established this position and filled it.

    Jul 16, 2014

    Jun 27, 2014

    Jun 24, 2014

    Jun 23, 2014

    Jun 18, 2014

    Jun 16, 2014

    Jun 11, 2014

    Jun 10, 2014

    Looking for more? Browse all our products here