Cost and duration of FPS transition were underestimated

Tools

Because the Homeland Security Department did not follow best practices, the transfer of the Federal Protective Service is taking longer and costing more than expected, according to a July 15 report from the Government Accountability Office.

The fiscal 2010 DHS appropriations act transferred FPS from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to the National Protection and Programs Directorate. FPS is the primary agency responsible for the security of over 9,000 federal facilities nationwide.

So far, 13 of FPS's 18 mission-support functions have transferred to NPPD, the report says. The remaining five, including information technology services, have been delayed by an average of over 19 months.

The plan for transferring IT services did not meet any of GAO's nine best practices for scheduling--according to GAO standards, it met two of them partially, three minimally and four not at all.

Additionally, DHS estimated in 2009 that the transition would cost $14.6 million, but has now revised it to $18.5 million.

GAO auditors examined DHS's cost estimate for the IT services transition and found that it partially met one best practice (whether it is comprehensive) and minimally met the other three (whether it is well-documented, accurate and credible).

The report says the transfer to NPPD will help FPS address challenges like ensuring proper training of guards and coping with funding problems that have led to low morale, increased attrition and the loss of institutional knowledge. The missions of FPS and NPPD are complementary and mutually supportive, the GAO says.

According to FPS headquarters and regional officials whom GAO interviewed, the transition so far has occurred without harming its mission, interfering with field operations or changing the way FPS performs on a daily basis.

For more:
- download the GAO report (.pdf)

Related Articles:
GAO weighs benefits of in-house vs. contract security workers

FPS risk-based posture awaits a second try for IT system

GAO: Security weak at many federal buildings