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Congressman Andre Carson

Representing the 7th District of INDIANA

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Full Statement - Public Buildings Saving and Reform Act of 2016, March 2, 2016

Mar 2, 2016
Statements for the Record

Statement of The Honorable André Carson
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
Full Committee Markup
H.R. 4487, “Public Buildings Saving and Reform Act of 2016”
March 2, 2016

Good afternoon.  Today’s markup includes the bi-partisan H.R. 4487, the “Public Buildings Savings and Reform Act of 2016”. This bill begins the process of reforming the General Services Administration (GSA) Public Building Service and Federal Protective Service. I want to thank Chairman Barletta for working with me to include critical provisions to update the Federal Protective Service.

 

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has consistently deemed the management of federal real property an area of “high-risk”.   The provisions contained in today’s bill will likely address many of the concerns that GAO has documented.

 

Specifically, the bill will allow GSA to reform the leasing process and tighten oversight of the construction process.  Perhaps the most important provision is the five year pilot program designed to streamline the GSA leasing procurement process.  By raising the threshold for simplified lease acquisitions, I believe GSA will be able to reduce their workload on smaller leases and use their resources on larger leases that can provide even more savings to taxpayers. Other measures in the pilot allow for more consolidations and co-locations where they make sense.

 

I am also pleased that today’s bill includes several of the reforms I put forth in my bill, H.R. 1850, the Federal Protective Service (FPS) Improvement Act.  Just over 20 years ago on April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building (Murrah Building) was bombed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  In the aftermath of this attack, , the Department of Justice (DOJ) assessed the vulnerability of other Federal office buildings in the United States, particularly related to acts of terrorism and other forms of violence. The DOJ report made several recommendations, including upgrading the Federal Protective Service (FPS) and bringing each Federal facility up to recommended minimum standards for its security level.  

 

The reforms in today’s legislation begin to address those recommendations in a meaningful way.  These reforms include creating a national framework for the 13,000 contract guards who protect federal buildings, employees, and visitors every day.  It mandates a minimum level of training for Protective Service Officers or (PSOs) while providing authority for PSOs to carry firearms and detain suspects accused of a felony on federal property.

 

By requiring minimum standards and having the Attorney General develop guidelines for detentions on federal property, I believe FPS will be better able to protect federal employees and constituents served in federal buildings.  Other provisions require FPS to focus on their core mission of securing federal buildings and allow them to take a more comprehensive approach to providing security to the buildings in GSA’s inventory. 

 

The bill also requires the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to study whether it has a sufficient amount of law enforcement officers and inspectors necessary to regularly conduct security assessments of federal facilities.  Another provision requires a study of whether the FPS’s funding fee structure is sufficient to fund the necessary strong law enforcement presence needed.

 

I believe it is imperative that we do everything possible to protect the millions of federal workers and daily visitors to federal buildings. With increased oversight and additional legislative authority I believe the Federal Protective Service can fulfill its mission.

 

I hope that we can continue to work in a bipartisan manner on this Committee.  Together, we can continue to put forward common sense reforms that allow both GSA and FPS to be good stewards of our Nation’s public buildings.