United States federal government facilities must remain secure if the country is to operate properly. Security breaches have occurred at these buildings, and officials must determine what went wrong and why. The terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001, serve as a good example of why buildings must be protected at all times from a variety of threats.
How Does the Government Secure Federal Facilities?
Government officials must figure out how to keep federal facilities safe while maintaining an open architecture necessary for a democracy. They do so using a variety of methods. For example, they put government security systems into place to prevent unscreened traffic from coming too close to buildings and glazing on glass in the buildings to prevent windows from shattering and injuring those nearby. The goal when securing these facilities is to minimize the risk of a criminal or terrorist harming a federal building or its occupants. As the government is responsible for numerous buildings across the country, each building must be assessed to determine its unique needs.
Who Bears This Responsibility?
Each federal department and agency must comply with the standards laid out in the U.S. Code and the Code of Federal Regulations when it comes to securing buildings. For those buildings housing one federal agency or department, the agency or department has the responsibility of securing the building. When more than one federal tenant operates in a building, the tenants come together to form a Facility Security Committee. Approximately 30 federal law enforcement agencies secure almost half of all federal buildings. The remainder are secured with the help of national security, intelligence, and military agencies and internal facility security forces.
Each building is assigned a security level. When determining this level, the Interagency Security Council looks at the size of the building, the number of tenants, how much access the public has to the building, and the mission and function of the agencies and departments housed within. The lowest level of security is provided to buildings with a Level 1 designation, while Level 5 buildings are critical to national security. This includes CIA headquarters and the Pentagon. Security surveys are conducted regularly to determine if changes need to be made to the security measures in place.
Federal facilities include a range of security operations. This includes response plans at all levels of government, the gathering and analysis of threats, and all-hazards risk assessments. In addition, the facilities oversee criminal and terrorist countermeasures along with safety and emergency training programs.
What Threats Do Federal Facilities Face?
Federal facilities face a number of threats. Someone may enter with an illegal weapon or an explosive. Assault, riots, and robbery remain concerns, as do civil disturbances. In a worst-case scenario, occupants of the building may fall victim to arson or a homicide.
The Physical Security Program oversees security for these buildings and complies with the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service standards and regulations. This program works with building managers and others to ensure the security of the building and occupants through the use of risk assessment surveys. They may recommend electronic security systems, locks and keys, protective security, and more.
The security upgrade program designed to protect these buildings has been met with many challenges. However, this does not mean the problem can be ignored. Every federal facility must make security a priority today or another 9-11 may be just around the corner.