Federal Protective Service chief gets new job at Homeland Security Department

By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 26, 2010; B03

The director of the beleaguered agency responsible for protecting federal buildings will transfer in June to a liaison role with the Department of Homeland Security, ending a rocky three-year tenure that exposed serious flaws in federal building security.

Federal Protective Service Director Gary W. Schenkel told colleagues in an e-mail Tuesday that he will move to Homeland Security headquarters in June to serve as acting deputy assistant secretary for state and local law enforcement.

FPS Deputy Director Paul Durette will serve as acting director, a spokeswoman said.

The move shifts the retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel from leading a small agency to serving as one of the department's primary liaisons to state and local law enforcement.

Schenkel joined the FPS in March 2007 after serving as director of Transportation Security Administration operations at Chicago Midway Airport. He led an agency responsible for protecting 1.5 million government workers and visitors at 9,000 federal facilities, ranging from multistory downtown buildings to suburban warehouses.

The FPS employs about 1,200 federal workers and almost 15,000 private security contractors. But the lax training of those contract guards earned the agency national media attention last July, when government auditors told lawmakers that they smuggled bombmaking materials through security checkpoints at 10 large federal buildings. Once inside, the government investigators assembled bombs in restrooms and then walked around the buildings undetected.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Afffairs Committee Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) called the report "the broadest indictment of an agency of the federal government that I've heard."

Schenkel faulted a lack of oversight and insufficient funding and manpower as the agency was absorbed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

The agency has instituted reforms since the report, including a review of contract guard certifications, development of a new training program and increased spot inspections of guard posts.

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