Security Protection: Standardization Issues Regarding Protection of Executive Branch Officials, Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Criminal Justice Oversight Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate   [open pdf - 1MB]

From fiscal years 1997 through 1999, 42 executive branch positions at 31 executive branch agencies--including all 14 Cabinet secretaries, four deputy or under secretaries, and 24 other high-ranking officials (mainly heads of agencies)--had security protection. Personnel from 27 different agencies protected them: 36 officials by their own agencies or departments and six from other agencies or departments, such as the Secret Service and the Marshals Service. Protective personnel increased 73 percent from fiscal year 1997 through 1999. Funding rose from $19.1 million in 1997 to $28.5 million in 1999, largely due to increased travel. Only the Secret Service and State Department have specific statutory authority to protect executive branch officials. Agencies reported that their officials received different levels and frequency of protection and that protection was needed to respond to possible and actual threats. Most agencies favored establishing a repository of protective intelligence to facilitate sharing of threat information about their officials. Also, agencies reported that their protective personnel received different amounts of protection training and from different sources. Field staff received less training than did the agencies' full-time personnel based in Washington. Most agencies favored establishing a standardized protection training program. Most agencies opposed centralizing security protection under one agency. No single agency or official is responsible for handling issues relating to routine protection of executive branch officials. This fragmentation has serious implications because 14 of the protected officials are in the line of presidential succession. Moreover, the lack of thorough threat assessments documenting the level of protection needed makes it difficult to determine the basis for and reasonableness of protection being given. GAO summarized this report in testimony before Congress; see: Security Protection: Standardization Issues Regarding Protection of Executive Branch Officials by Bernard L. Ungar, Director of Government Business Operations and Robert H. Hast, Assistant Comptroller General for Special Investigations, before the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice Oversight, Senate Committee on the Judiciary. GAO/T-GGD/OSI-00-177, July 27 (10 pages).

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