1998 Congressional Hearings
Intelligence and Security

The Subcommittee on Public Buildings and Economic Develpoment


June 4, 1998

Federal Building Security

TABLE OF CONTENTS(Click on Section)







The Subcommittee on Public Buildings and Economic Development will meet on Thursday, June 4, 1998, at 9:00 a.m., in room 2253 Rayburn, to receive testimony on security issues affecting the General Services Administration federal building inventory.


On April 19, 1995, a car bomb, containing approximately 4,800 pounds of chemical explosives, was detonated in front of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The building was destroyed, along with 10 other buildings surrounding the site, and damaged 320 others. In addition, 168 lives were lost and countless lives were changed.

This event ushered in a new era of security concerns for the Federal Government, which led to a number of actions to ensure the safety of the federal workforce and the preservation of the federal building inventory. President Clinton established a task force to review federal building vulnerability. The task force consisted of representatives from the Marshals Service, Department of Justice, General Services Administration (GSA), Department of State, United States Secret Service, Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Upon completing a nationwide review of security within the federal office building inventory in the United States, the Task Force issued a report titled Vulnerability Assessment of Federal Facilities (the DOJ Report), on June 28, 1995. The DOJ Report recommended government-wide security standards for federal facilities, and provided the basis for GSA to implement a costly nationwide security enhancement effort.

The DOJ Report called for each federal facility to be enhanced with a minimum set of security standards based on specific security needs and requirements. The DOJ Report also recommended that security upgrades first be addressed by building level security committees (BSCs) with the resultant building-by-building evaluations to be reviewed and assessed by GSA. Buildings are now categorized along four levels; Level IV is the highest in terms of building security, Level I is the lowest. Each Level IV building is to establish a Building Security Committee, composed of Federal Employees, Federal Protective Service officers, and union representatives, who are charged with reviewing and assessing existing security measures and making recommendations to meet minimum standards as outlined in the DOJ Report.

GSA’s immediate action in the wake of the bombing included the placement of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) on 12 hour shifts, and the hiring of an additional 800 contract security guards, which totaled over 3,000 nationwide.

Since FY 1995, GSA has budgeted approximately $150 million for capital costs in conjunction with enhanced building security. These costs include barriers, access control systems, building hardening, screening devices, glass safety, and other needed equipment.

During the same time-frame, GSA has budgeted $362 million for operating costs, such as increased personnel for security. These expenditures were based on recommendations from the 6,500 BSCs; and they are in addition to the standard security supplied to GSA controlled facilities by the FPS. Historically, the cost of providing security to the GSA federal building inventory is approximately $100 million, annually. In FY 1997, GSA increased spending on building security by $200 million. Since FY 1997, the average annual total security spending request has been in the $250 million range. Included in these cost figures is the expenditure for the FPS. As of April 1995, GSA had in its employ 376 uniformed FPS officers. In FY 1998, FPS personnel grew to 672, with an additional 50 to be hired within the year. During the same time period, contract security personnel grew from 2,300 to 5,000.

Between FY 1995 and FY 1998, GSA budgeted approximately $750 million, in total, for security measures. GSA expects to be reimbursed for only half of this amount by tenant agencies.


Last year the Subcommittee requested GAO to evaluate the GSA building security upgrade program. Specifically, GAO was asked to determine: (1) the criteria GSA used to access security risks and prioritize security upgrades for its buildings; (2) the implementation and operational status of GSA’s security upgrade program and the costs incurred by GSA, identifying both the funding source and the type of security upgrade (such as X-ray machines and security upgrades); and (3) whether any problems hindered GSA’s implementation of the security upgrade program.

Based on GAO’s analysis, GSA has made progress implementing upgrades in federal buildings throughout the country, particularly in its high risk buildings. According to GAO findings, approximately 7,000 upgrades were completed; and approximately $353 million was obligated from the FBF for the upgrade program between October 1, 1995 and March 31, 1998. However, mistakes were made by GSA in its rush to meet the timetable recommended in the DOJ Report. GSA was hindered in its efforts to implement the security upgrade program due to its reduced staff from downsizing; data reliability problems; and uncertain funding levels. Overall, as of this point in time, GAO is unable to establish program outcome measures, and therefore cannot estimate the extent to which completed upgrades have resulted in greater security or reduced vulnerability for federal office buildings. As a result of these weaknesses, GSA is not in a position to manage its program to mitigate security threats. GAO will provide a detailed statement on its findings, and will make several recommendations to improve the management of the security program.


In addition, for the past several months the GSA Inspector General (IG) has been reviewing expenditures made by the Public Building Service in connection with security enhancements for federal buildings. Preliminary reports from this review indicate that problems exist with equipment installation and implementation. Namely, some equipment, such as X-ray machines, closed circuit television monitors, and magnatometers were found to be in storage, still in shrink wrap two years after purchase. The IG auditor in charge of this review will provide additional details.



Mr. Robert Peck
Commissioner Deputy
General Services Administration

Mr. Eugene Waszily
Inspector General, Audits
General Services Administration

Bernard Ungar Director
Director, Government Business Operations Issues
General Accounting Office


Mr. Kenneth Wood
Barringer Instruments, Inc.

Dr. Ron Massa
Lorron Corporation

Mr. Tom McGoff
President, Local 2264
American Federation of Government Employees

Dr. Gene Corley
representing American Society of Civil Engineers