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GAO: GSA, DHS need to collaborate more to protect federal facilities

The Government Accountability Office has called on the General Services Administration and the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service to improve collaboration in order to safeguard federal facilities from security risks.

GAO made the recommendation after it found that lack of awareness among regional officials at both agencies on collaborative practices and policies to carry out daily operations resulted in security risks and inefficiencies at federal buildings, the congressional audit agency said in a recently released report.

GSA and FPS should define common outcomes with regard to facility protection and reach an agreement on a draft joint strategy document, according to the report.

GAO also urged both agencies to improve communication and agree on their responsibilities and roles when it comes to the security of GSA-leased facilities.

FPS and GSA should work to track, assess and report on efforts to protect federal facilities and bolster accountability for collaboration through the development of strategic plans, the report said.

While each agency has some individual policies for collaboration, the two agencies have made limited progress in agreeing on several key practices, which include:

  • Define and articulate a common outcome
  • Establish mutually reinforcing or joint strategies
  • Agree on roles and responsibilities
  • Establish compatible policies, procedures, and other means to operate across agencies
  • Develop mechanisms to monitor, evaluate, and report on results
  • Reinforce agency accountability for collaborative efforts through agency plans and reports

Reaching agreement on these practices will help to enhance the agencies’ ability to protect federal facilities and to improve day-to-day operations at the regional level. DHS specifically concurred with GAO’s recommendations, and GSA agreed to work with FPS to address the findings.