|TRAFICANT, James A., Jr.,|
FRIDAY, JULY 24, 1998
Washington, D.C. – U. S. Rep. James A. Traficant, Jr. (D–OH) wants Congress to move quickly to approve legislation he has introduced to improve federal building security. "If Congress does not take swift action to reform and upgrade the Federal Protective Service, I fear that another Oklahoma City tragedy will occur," warned Traficant in a letter sent this morning to U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Shuster's panel has jurisdiction over federal buildings.
Traficant, the ranking Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Sub- committee on Public Buildings, introduced legislation earlier this year that would make sweeping changes to FPS. Currently, FPS is part of the General Services Administration's Public Building Service. Recent Congressional hearings and several government security reviews conducted in the wake of the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City revealed serious problems within FPS.
"I am deeply concerned that low manpower levels, a flawed management structure, an unfair compensation system and the increasing use of unqualified contract guards are seriously compromising the ability of FPS to do its job," noted Traficant in his letter to Chairman Shuster. Traficant's bill, H.R. 4034, statutorily establishes FPS as the principal law enforcement and security agency in the U.S. with respect to federal buildings. The bill also makes the FPS a freestanding service within GSA, sets clear qualification standards for FPS senior managers, clarifies and broadens the authority of FPS officers, increases the compensation of FPS officers to the same level of comparable law enforcement agencies, increases the number of full-time FPS officers from 648 to 730, and requires contract security guards to undergo the same background checks as FPS officers.
According to Traficant, the Oklahoma City bombing should have served as a wake up call to Congress to improve federal building security. On the day of the bombing there was one contract security guard on duty in Oklahoma City. That guard was responsible for protecting three federal buildings -- including the Murrah building.
"Since the Oklahoma City bombing, PBS has made great strides in improving the physical security of federal buildings," said Traficant. "But, as a recent hearing held by my subcommittee revealed, the security upgrade program has been hindered by mismanagement and staff reductions. Structural and personnel problems within FPS are also hampering the security upgrade program," asserted Traficant. "H.R. 4034 will make the changes needed to boost morale, improve management and allow FPS to respond more ably to terrorist threats."
Traficant warned Chairman Shuster that "the longer Congress delays in addressing the problems facing FPS, the more Congress is tempting fate. Domestic terrorism can strike any place in the country. EVERY FEDERAL BUILDING IN AMERICA IS A POTENTIAL TARGET! The best way to deter terrorist acts against federal buildings is to have a highly motivated, professionally led, properly manned and fairly compensated Federal Protective Service," added Traficant.2009