Index

Security Protection: Standardization Issues Regarding Protection of
Executive Branch Officials (Testimony, 07/27/2000, GAO/T-GGD/OSI-00-177).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the security
protection of executive branch officials in fiscal years 1997 through
1999, focusing on:  (1) how many federal government officials were
protected, who protected them, and how many security personnel protected
them; (2) how much did it cost to protect these officials; (3) under
what legal authorities were agencies providing security protection; (4)
under what circumstances were officials protected; (5) how agencies were
preparing threat assessments, and the implications of standardizing and
centralizing threat assessments; (6) what training did protective
personnel receive, and what are the implications of standardizing and
centralizing security protection training; (7) what are the implications
of centralizing protection services under one agency; and (8) what are
the views of the protected officials regarding the need for and adequacy
of their protection.

GAO noted that: (1) from fiscal years 1997 through 1999, agency security
officials said that security protection was provided to officials
holding 42 positions at 31 executive branch agencies; (2) these
officials included all 14 cabinet secretaries, 4 deputy or under
secretaries, and 24 other high-ranking officials (mainly heads of
agencies); (3) the 42 officials were protected by personnel from 27
different agencies; (4) 36 officials were protected by personnel from
their own agencies or departments, and 6 officials were protected by
personnel from other agencies or departments, such as the Secret Service
and the Marshals Service; (5) agencies reported that the number of
full-time protective personnel increased by 73 percent in fiscal years
1997 through 1999; (6) the 27 agencies also reported spending a total of
at least $73.7 million to protect the officials holding the 42 positions
during that 3-year period; (7) only two agencies--the Secret Service and
the Department of State--had specific statutory authority to protect
executive branch officials; (8) the other agencies relied on a variety
of other authorities in providing protection to officials, such as
having their protective personnel deputized by the Marshals Service to
provide them with law enforcement authority; (9) agencies reported that
their officials received different levels and frequencies of protection
and that protection was needed to respond to possible and actual
threats; (10) the agencies reported that their protective personnel
received different amounts of protection training and from different
sources; (11) the issue of centralizing security protection
governmentwide has many implications, including who would decide who is
to be protected and the level of protection to be provided, who would
provide the services, whether Congress would need to grant statutory
authorities, and whether centralization would be a more cost-efficient
and effective way of providing these services than the current
decentralized approach; (12) GAO contacted protected officials in its
review to ask them for their views about their protection and about
security protection standardization issues; and (13) those officials who
responded to GAO queries generally said that they were satisfied with
their protection and would like to continue with the current
arrangements.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  T-GGD/OSI-00-177
     TITLE:  Security Protection: Standardization Issues Regarding
	     Protection of Executive Branch Officials
      DATE:  07/27/2000
   SUBJECT:  Public officials
	     Law enforcement personnel
	     Interagency relations
	     Standards and standardization

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GAO/T-GGD/OSI-00-177

SECURITY PROTECTION Standardization Issues Regarding Protection of Executive
Branch Officials

Statement of Bernard L. Ungar Director, Government Business Operations
Issues General Government Division

and Robert H. Hast Acting Assistant Comptroller General for Special
Investigations

United States General Accounting Office

GAO Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice Oversight,

Committee on the Judiciary, U. S. Senate

For Release on Delivery Expected at 2: 00 p. m., EDT on Thursday July 27,
2000

GAO/ T- GGD/ OSI- 00- 177

Summary Security Protection: Standardization Issues Regarding Protection of
Executive Branch Officials

Page 1 GAO/ T- GGD/ OSI- 00- 177

Security protection for executive branch officials is currently being
conducted in a decentralized fashion. Most agencies protect their own
officials, although some officials are protected by other agencies, such as
the U. S. Secret Service and the U. S. Marshals Service. From fiscal years
1997 through 1999, agencies reported that security protection was being
provided for 42 positions at 31 executive branch agencies. To protect these
officials, agencies reported spending $19.1 million in fiscal year 1997,
$26.1 million in fiscal year 1998, and $28.5 million in fiscal year 1999- a
49- percent increase in those 3 years. They also reported that the number of
full- time personnel employed to protect these officials increased by 73
percent during that 3- year period.

Our review indicated that some of the government's highest ranking officials
were being protected by personnel who said they did not have sufficient
access to protective intelligence and training. We found that three- fourths
of the agencies did not have detailed, written threat assessments justifying
their decisions to protect officials. Without assessments that link the
level of threat to the size of the protective force, it would be difficult
to determine whether the level of protection provided and the amount of
money spent on protection were appropriate. Further, some agencies said they
lacked the legal authority to make arrests and conduct threat investigations
to protect their officials. Some security officials also raised questions
about potential conflicts of interest that could result from using
protective personnel from agencies' offices of inspectors general. Most
agencies opposed centralizing security protection services under one agency.
We believe that additional sharing of protective intelligence, establishing
a standardized protection training program, and providing agencies with
specific statutory authority to provide protection could help enhance
security protection for top federal officials.

We also found that no single agency or official was responsible for handling
issues relating to the routine protection of executive branch officials.
This fragmentation of protective responsibilities among multiple executive
branch agencies has national security implications regarding the functioning
of government in part because 14 of the protected officials are in the line
of presidential succession. We are recommending that the OMB Director, in
consultation with the President, designate an appropriate official or group
to assess security protection issues for top- level federal officials and
report its recommendations to Congress for action. Once the OMB Director has
submitted his recommendations to Congress, Congress should consider enacting
legislation that would give whatever agency or agencies that provide
protection the resources and specific statutory authority needed to
effectively carry out these responsibilities.

Statement Security Protection: Standardization Issues Regarding Protection
of Executive Branch Officials

Page 2 GAO/ T- GGD/ OSI- 00- 177

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: We are pleased to be here
today to discuss our report entitled Security Protection: Standardization
Issues Regarding Protection of Executive Branch Officials (GAO/ GGD/ OSI-
00- 139, July 11, 2000). As you requested, this report updates our December
1994 report in which we reviewed security protection for officials at 10 of
the 14 cabinet- level departments. 1 You asked that we expand our 1994
report by addressing standardization and centralization issues regarding
security protection. In addition, as agreed with the Subcommittee, this
report includes data on the protection of all civilian executive branch
officials except the President, Vice President, Central Intelligence Agency
officials, and U. S. ambassadors to foreign countries.

Our report contains information from agency security officials and protected
officials on the following questions pertaining to fiscal years 1997 through
1999: (1) How many federal government officials were protected, who
protected them, and how many security personnel protected them? (2) How much
did it cost to protect these officials? (3) Under what legal authorities
were agencies providing security protection? (4) Under what circumstances
were officials protected? (5) How were agencies preparing threat
assessments, and what are the implications of standardizing and centralizing
threat assessments? (6) What training did protective personnel receive, and
what are the implications of standardizing and centralizing security
protection training? (7) What are the implications of centralizing
protection services under one agency? and (8) What are the views of the
protected officials regarding the need for and adequacy of their protection?

We collected this information by asking security officials from the 27
agencies that provided the protection to complete detailed questionnaires on
these issues, reviewing documents, and visiting protection training
facilities. We also sent letters directly to officials who were protected
from fiscal years 1997 through 1999 requesting their views on their
protection and on security standardization issues. Although we asked
agencies for the bases of their decisions to protect officials, we did not
independently assess whether particular officials should be protected or
whether the level of protection being provided and resources being expended
were appropriate.

1 Security Protection: Costs of Services Provided for Selected Cabinet
Officials (GAO/ GGD- 95- 50, Dec. 30, 1994).

Statement Security Protection: Standardization Issues Regarding Protection
of Executive Branch Officials

Page 3 GAO/ T- GGD/ OSI- 00- 177

Due to the sensitive nature of this information, we agreed to respond in two
reports. The report we are discussing today addresses all eight questions by
providing aggregate data. It does not provide information by agency or
identify specific protected officials. A separate, classified report
addressed to you on May 31, 2000, provided specific information on the
security provided by position held and agency.

From fiscal years 1997 through 1999, agency security officials said that
security protection was provided to officials holding 42 positions at 31
executive branch agencies. These officials included all 14 cabinet
secretaries, 4 deputy or under secretaries, and 24 other high- ranking
officials (mainly heads of agencies). The 42 officials were protected by
personnel from 27 different agencies. Thirty- six officials were protected
by personnel from their own agencies or departments, and 6 officials were
protected by personnel from other agencies or departments, such as the U. S.
Secret Service and the U. S. Marshals Service.

Agencies reported that the number of full- time protective personnel
increased by 73 percent in fiscal years 1997 through 1999. The 27 agencies
also reported spending a total of at least $73.7 million to protect the
officials holding the 42 positions during that 3- year period. The agencies
reported that they spent $19.1 million in fiscal year 1997, $26.1 million in
fiscal year 1998, and $28.5 million in fiscal year 1999- a 49- percent
increase in 3 years. The agencies with the largest increases in costs and
full- time protective personnel during those 3 years generally said that
these increases were the result of increased travel by the protected
officials and the provision of enhanced security to respond to potential
terrorist threats.

We did not find that historically, top appointed federal officials have been
frequent victims of harm. However, security officials stressed that
effective security protection serves as a deterrent to harm. In addition,
agencies reported receiving 134 direct threats (threat of direct physical
harm, kidnapping, extortion, etc.) against their officials in fiscal years
1997 through 1999. Moreover, research on threat assessments suggests that
top appointed federal officials may be vulnerable to attack. According to a
1998 study conducted by the Secret Service, many attackers and would- be
attackers considered more than one target before attacking. This finding has
implications for high- ranking government officials, who may become targets
of attack by potentially dangerous individuals who shift their focus from
one government official to another. Findings

Statement Security Protection: Standardization Issues Regarding Protection
of Executive Branch Officials

Page 4 GAO/ T- GGD/ OSI- 00- 177

Only two agencies- the Secret Service and the State Department- had specific
statutory authority to protect executive branch officials. The other
agencies relied on a variety of other authorities in providing protection to
officials, such as having their protective personnel deputized by the U. S.
Marshals Service to provide them with law enforcement authority. When
agencies provide protection to their officials without specific statutory
authority to do so, potential problems can arise, particularly with respect
to whether their protective personnel have the necessary law enforcement
authorities to make arrests, conduct investigations, and use force. The
military agencies in our review, for example, indicated that their
protective personnel had the authority to arrest military personnel, but not
civilians, and that they had only the authority to detain civilians who
constitute an immediate threat to the safety of a protected official. Eight
agencies also said that they did not have the authority to investigate
threats made against their protected officials and referred threats for
investigation to other agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of
Investigation.

The primary protective personnel employed at 11 agencies, including 2
offices of inspectors general, were deputized as U. S. Marshals to provide
them with needed law enforcement authorities. The Marshals Service indicated
that it may not renew these deputations after January 1, 2001, to highlight
the need for Congress to provide agencies' offices of inspectors general
with their own statutory authority to provide protection. Further, the
Marshals Service said that if Congress does not provide statutory authority
to those agencies by January 2001, it might be appropriate for the Marshals
Service to assume those agencies' protective responsibilities at that time.

Protective personnel at three agencies were employed by offices of
inspectors general. Some security officials expressed a concern that using
personnel from agencies' offices of inspectors general could represent a
potential conflict of interest. They said that if offices of inspectors
general were investigating officials whom they were also protecting, it
could result in an atmosphere of distrust between the protective personnel
and the officials. A March 2000 Department of Justice Office of Legal
Counsel opinion raised similar concerns. However, officials at the agencies
that employed protective personnel in offices of inspectors general
disagreed, saying that potential conflicts of interest were avoided by
separating the investigative and protective responsibilities within their
offices.

Agencies reported that their officials received different levels and
frequencies of protection and that protection was needed to respond to
possible and actual threats. According to agencies with security protection
Legal Authorities

Threat Assessments

Statement Security Protection: Standardization Issues Regarding Protection
of Executive Branch Officials

Page 5 GAO/ T- GGD/ OSI- 00- 177

as one of their primary missions (the Secret Service, the Marshals Service,
and the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service), threat assessments
form the basis for determining the need and scope of protection. The
agencies with security protection as one of their primary missions, and most
of the Department of Defense agencies, had prepared detailed, written threat
assessments regarding their protected officials. However, nearly three-
fourths of the agencies that provided protection said they had not prepared
detailed, written threat analyses justifying their decisions to apply
certain levels of protection and expend resources. In addition, the seven
agencies that had written threat assessments did not detail how decisions
were made regarding the size of the protective force needed. Without
assessments that link the level of threat to the size of the protective
force, it would be difficult to determine whether the level of protection
provided and the amount of money spent on protection were appropriate.

Security personnel generally reported that their ability to prepare threat
assessments depended in part on their access to information from other
agencies about potential and actual threats against their officials. Such
information is known as protective intelligence. 2 Three agencies cited
specific examples of instances when they had been unable to obtain timely
protective intelligence from another agency about potential threats against
their officials.

With regard to standardizing threat assessments, it is uncertain how
agencies could obtain the protective intelligence they need from
governmentwide sources in order to prepare the assessments and who would
prepare them. Most agencies favored establishing a central repository of
protective intelligence to facilitate the sharing of threat information
about their officials. Security officials said that establishing a central
repository of protective intelligence to facilitate the sharing of such
information among agencies would involve determining who should administer
the repository, how it would operate, whether specific statutory authority
would be needed, and the cost of establishing and administering it. The
agencies that favored establishing a central repository of protective
intelligence said that it could provide a formal mechanism for sharing
threat data, which could give agencies additional information about threats
against their officials and individuals in their presence. Of the agencies
that favored the establishment of a central protective intelligence
repository, most favored having the Secret Service administer it. Some

2 A Secret Service official defined protective intelligence as the programs
and efforts that seek to identify, assess, and manage persons and/ or groups
who make or pose threats to public officials.

Statement Security Protection: Standardization Issues Regarding Protection
of Executive Branch Officials

Page 6 GAO/ T- GGD/ OSI- 00- 177

security officials who opposed the central repository feared that it could
result in the creation of a new bureaucracy and that valuable information
could be overlooked, and questioned whether all agencies would share
protective intelligence, given certain legal restrictions on the disclosure
of information regarding their clients.

The agencies in our review reported that their protective personnel received
different amounts of protection training and from different sources.
Generally, protective personnel from the agencies with security protection
as one of their primary missions reported having more training than those
employed by the other agencies. The agencies with security protection as one
of their primary missions reported that their training consisted of
instruction in firearms; threat assessments; emergency medical training;
practical protection exercises; security advance, motorcade, airport, and
foreign travel procedures; defensive driving skills; defensive tactics; and
legal authorities. Further, several agencies reported that their field staff
who provided protection as part of their collateral duties received less
protection training than the agencies' full- time protective personnel based
in Washington, D. C., or that their field staff had received no protection
training. Six agencies said they had difficulty obtaining protection
training for their personnel because of class availability, funding, or
workload problems.

With regard to standardizing training for protective personnel, what
subjects the training should include, what agency should provide the
training, and the cost would need to be considered. Most agencies favored
establishing a standardized protection training program so that different
agencies' protective personnel would be trained in the same procedures and
would react in a similar manner in case of an emergency. Further, most of
the agencies that favored a standardized protection training program said
that it should be conducted by the Secret Service. The agencies that did not
favor standardized training said that training was important, but that they
preferred to conduct their own training tailored to address their own needs
and unique environments.

The issue of centralizing security protection governmentwide has many
implications, including who would decide who is to be protected and the
level of protection to be provided; who would provide the services; whether
Congress would need to grant statutory authorities; and whether
centralization would be a more cost- efficient and effective way of
providing these services than the current decentralized approach. Security
officials at most of the agencies in our review said that they opposed
centralizing security protection under one agency. They said it was more
Protection Training

Centralizing Security Protection Services

Statement Security Protection: Standardization Issues Regarding Protection
of Executive Branch Officials

Page 7 GAO/ T- GGD/ OSI- 00- 177

effective to use protective personnel who were employed by the officials'
own agencies because such personnel were more knowledgeable about the
agencies' culture and operations. Further, some agencies said that they
would lose a measure of control over the protection of their officials if
the responsibility were transferred to a single agency, and also questioned
how resources would be allocated for protecting officials.

The Marshals Service was the only agency that favored centralizing security
protection services. The Marshals Service said that it was interested in
assuming responsibility for protecting agency officials, provided that it
received the needed resources to accomplish this. In addition, the Marshals
Service said that it could use well- trained personnel who would operate in
a consistent and coordinated fashion governmentwide and could provide
certain economies of scale in terms of resources and equipment. We were
unable to determine how the costs of protection would be affected if a
single agency protected agency heads because of the number of variables
involved, such as the threat levels against different protected officials
and the officials' preferences regarding their protection.

The Secret Service said it was not currently interested in assuming
responsibility for protecting all agency heads. An official in charge of
protection at the State Department said that the State Department might be
interested in protecting cabinet secretaries if it received the necessary
resources, and that agencies might be more comfortable with having the
Diplomatic Security Service protect their officials, compared to a
traditional law enforcement agency.

We contacted protected officials in our review to ask them for their views
about their protection and about security protection standardization issues.
Those officials who responded to our queries (or their immediate,
nonsecurity staff) generally said that they were satisfied with their
protection and would like to continue with the current arrangements. Most of
the protected officials, or their top aides, said that the individuals
holding such positions automatically should receive security protection
because of their visibility and the types of issues that they handled.

The safety of the government's highest ranking officials is important to
maintain the orderly functioning of government. Individuals serving in the
government's highest offices can be vulnerable to threats from individuals
who are opposed to their agencies' policies and actions or are emotionally
unstable, and terrorists. At the same time, protection for federal officials
should be based on thorough threat assessments using protective Action
Needed to

Address Issues

Statement Security Protection: Standardization Issues Regarding Protection
of Executive Branch Officials

Page 8 GAO/ T- GGD/ OSI- 00- 177

intelligence from governmentwide sources and documenting the need and plan
for protection. Threat assessments should also show linkages between
identified threats and the nature and level of protection to be provided.

Our review indicated that some of the government's highest officials were
being protected by personnel who said they did not have sufficient access to
protective intelligence and protection training. Further, some agencies said
they lacked the legal authority to make arrests and conduct threat
investigations to protect their officials. Additional sharing of protective
intelligence, establishing a standardized protection training program, and
providing agencies with specific statutory authority to provide protection
could help enhance security protection for top federal officials.

We also found that no single agency or official was responsible for handling
issues relating to the routine protection of executive branch officials.
This fragmentation of protective responsibilities among multiple executive
branch agencies has implications regarding the functioning of government in
part 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 the protection being given, especially considering the
growth in the costs of protection in recent years.

We recommended in our recent report that the OMB Director, in consultation
with the President, designate an appropriate official or group to assess
security protection issues for top- level federal officials. At a minimum,
this assessment should include such issues as

 how agencies can best obtain protective intelligence from governmentwide
sources needed to prepare thorough threat assessments, including an
assessment of whether a central protective intelligence repository should be
established and, if so, who should administer it;

 how best to ensure that a clear linkage exists between the documented
threat assessments and the need for and level of protection for the routine
protection of top executive branch officials;

 what training should be provided to federal protective personnel, to what
extent the training should be standardized, and who should provide it;
Recommendations

Statement Security Protection: Standardization Issues Regarding Protection
of Executive Branch Officials

Page 9 GAO/ T- GGD/ OSI- 00- 177

 whether security protection should be centralized under one agency or, if
not, whether any changes in the way protection is currently being provided
should be made;

 whether agencies and/ or offices of inspectors general should be provided
with specific statutory authority to provide protection, and whether the
Marshals Service should continue to renew its deputation of agencies'
protective personnel;

 whether the administration should adopt a policy regarding the routine
protection of top executive branch officials; and

 whether an official or group should be designated to oversee security
protection issues for top executive branch officials on an ongoing basis.

To ensure that the benefits of this assessment are realized, we further
recommended that the individual or group conducting the assessment produce
an action plan that identifies any issues requiring congressional action. We
also recommended that this official or group report its findings to the OMB
Director and that the Director report his recommendations on these subjects
to Congress.

Once the OMB Director has submitted his recommendations to Congress, we
suggested that Congress consider enacting legislation that would give
whatever agency or agencies that provide protection specific statutory
authority to effectively carry out these responsibilities. In addition,
should it be determined that centralized protection training, threat
assessment, or protection services are appropriate, we suggested that
Congress consider making the needed resources available to the appropriate
agency or agencies that are designated to provide these services and should
make any needed legislative changes.

Fifteen agencies, including OMB, provided comments on a draft of our July 11
report. The agencies generally agreed with our findings, conclusions, and
recommendations. In particular, OMB agreed to conduct the assessment of
security protection issues we recommended, provided that it receive
sufficient resources and time to accomplish this.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes our prepared statement. We would be pleased to
answer any questions you or other Members of the Subcommittee may have.
Matters for

Congressional Consideration

Agency Comments

Statement Security Protection: Standardization Issues Regarding Protection
of Executive Branch Officials

Page 10 GAO/ T- GGD/ OSI- 00- 177

For further information regarding this testimony, please contact Bernard L.
Ungar, Director, Government Business Operations Issues, on (202) 512- 8387,
or Robert H. Hast, Acting Assistant Comptroller General for Special
Investigations, on (202) 512- 7455. Individuals making key contributions to
this testimony included Robert Homan, Thomas Wiley, and Patrick Sullivan.
Contacts And

Acknowledgement

Page 11 GAO/ T- GGD/ OSI- 00- 177

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