Report on Federal Buildings Vulnerability

GSA #9270 June 28, 1995 Statement

The following statement by Julia M. Stasch, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, on the Department of Justice review of vulnerability of federal buildings to terrorist attack, was released today.

More than two months have elapsed since the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) continues the initiatives it undertook to enhance the security at buildings under its control.

These actions include a generally heightened level of security awareness, including in many instances the inspection of packages, briefcases and vehicles; and generally tighter control of visitors and others within our buildings.

At a number of key locations, we have taken steps to limit public access and escort visitors, and we are continuing to pay particular attention to parking lots and garages as well as street-level parking adjacent to the buildings. In a number of cases, restrictions have been placed on parking next to buildings. We are committed to continuing these interim heightened security measures through September 30. Beginning in FY 1996, GSA will begin implementation of updated security measures identified in the Department of Justice (DOJ) study and GSA's internal review of the events surrounding the Oklahoma City bombing. We will move quickly to establish the tenant Building Security Committees in each facility, as recommended by the report.

GSA has participated with the DOJ task group in preparing the report to the President on the vulnerability of federal buildings to terrorist attack. It provides a critical first step for GSA in enhancing federal building security to deal with the threat of domestic terrorism manifested by the bombing in Oklahoma City.

The review addresses two major areas in some detail by: 1) providing a security profile of typical GSA office space, and 2) establishes a recommended set of minimum standards for GSA federal civilian office space.

The security profile was developed from a joint field survey of a sample of GSA buildings conducted by representatives from GSA's Federal Protective Service and the U.S. Marshals Service. This building sample is extensive and representative in both the number of employees housed therein as well as the variety of structures and facilities it represents. The security profile of the buildings provides basic data on building features and security information that will serve as a foundation for comparing current conditions with recommended standards and will serve as the initial step in our long-term effort to reduce the vulnerability of federal buildings to attack by terrorists.

The study also identifies a preliminary set of security standards that establishes a comprehensive framework for enhancing GSA's current physical security survey process and risk assessment methodology. These standards, which address perimeter security, access/egress control, construction/renovation criteria, etc., also identify a number of immediate security actions which we are continuing to address through our heightened security posture. Based on building characteristics, these include increased inspection of packages and briefcases, tighter control of visitors and vehicles within our buildings, and limitations on street level and other parking adjacent to some buildings.

The study also discusses a number of longer term initiatives which include:

  • A comprehensive review and revision of construction standards for new federal facilities;
  • The co-location of sensitive and non-sensitive agencies;
  • The location of -- and special security needs based on risk factors related to -- child care centers in federal facilities;
  • Enhanced communication and coordination of law enforcement intelligence information.

The DOJ report provides a significant opportunity for us to institutionalize a new security awareness in responding to the concerns of customer agencies, federal employees and the public.

With respect to child care centers in federal facilities, we remain committed to this Administration's family related initiatives, of which affordable day care is a key issue. Parents have told us -- loud and clear -- since April 19, that the child care program is critical to enabling them to balance work and family responsibilities in a "family friendly" workplace. We have reassessed security at all of GSA's day care centers, and have already taken a number of interim measures to enhance security. The Interagency Security Committee will evaluate standards for the location of, and special security needs based on risk factors related to, day care centers in federal facilities.

We envision an evaluation that includes centers currently in GSA space, those that operate in other federal facilities and those currently in the planning stage. Our child care staff will work closely with the Interagency Security Committee to assure that special needs of children and families are appropriately represented.

In addition to participating in the DOJ study, GSA began its own review and assessment of security and law enforcement internal policies, procedures, and practices. The objective of the review was to determine how well our existing policies and procedures met the challenge of the Oklahoma City incident, and to identify any recommendations for change based on the lessons learned from our collective experience.

Our review will combine lessons learned with the DOJ study to:

  • Identify benefits and impacts of the recommendations;
  • Define GSA roles and responsibilities;
  • Develop short and long-term implementation strategies.

A conference of experts in the design and construction aspects of physical security is scheduled to meet on July 13 to develop specific recommendations for design and construction standards. This will be conducted for GSA under the auspices of the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS). Additionally, the National Academy of Science (NAS) is completing a study on blast mitigation based on lessons learned from the World Trade Center bombing. We will work with NAS to ensure its participation in any long-term research or studies.