FPS ramps up reform efforts, again

Monday - 7/18/2011, 1:23pm EDT

By Courtney Thompson
Federal News Radio

The Federal Protective Service is in the process of revamping current reform goals to solve training, communication and risk management issues that have long plagued the organization.

The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies found at a hearing last week that FPS hasn't met expectations in implementing improvements, such as those through the Risk Assessment Management Program (RAMP).

Initially, FPS designed RAMP to guide its risk management approach, providing guards with training and certification, tracking posts and conducting assessments of the 9,000 facilities that the agency protects.

But RAMP has not had the impact FPS had hoped.

"RAMP does not work as it was intended to," said Eric Patterson, the director of FPS, at the hearing. "I just think that we just need to begin to look at a focused approach and begin to better develop the tools in our tool box to make this happen. But I believe that we can do that."

Patterson and Mark Goldstein, director of physical infrastructure for the Government Accountability Office, agreed that developing a risk management strategy is a top priority for FPS. The security agency's director testified despite the ineffectiveness of RAMP, there will be advantages to revising the approach rather than discarding the nearly four-year-old strategy.

He also said the plans for RAMP 2nd Generation, which Goldstein said would be available in the coming weeks, are expected to help FPS develop guidelines for a risk assessment plan.

RAMP 2nd Generation will combine previous plans with the infrastructure survey tool also used by the Department of Homeland Security's National Protection and Programs Directorate to address the GAO's recommendations for better training and more security.

Additionally, the revised plan will require more communication between protective service officers and contracting officers. FPS will use the information exchanged through monthly data reports to reveal patterns and flaws.

Subcommittee members questioned the agency's ability to handle its current tasks as its workforce size has decreased over the years.

Patterson said the agency is capable of protecting its facilities and splitting up its responsibilities was unnecessary.

In the following panel discussion with the subcommittee, Steve Amitay, the National Association of Security Companies' legal counsel, suggested delegating tasks would be helpful to reduce the workload on FPS.

Lawmakers recommended FPS include more communication with the agency stakeholders, a standardized training and certification for protective service officers, as well as training on security technologies.

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GAO: Untrained guards mean unprotected feds Courtney Thompson is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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