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A Computer to Watch Over Federal Watch Guards

Flickr user cyklo

The government is contemplating using an employee-tracking system to ensure officers guarding the nation’s 9,000 federal facilities are on duty and qualified to be on duty.

The proposal follows an Obama administration effort to spot "insider threats" among the federal and contractor workforces, such as the Navy Yard shooter who killed a dozen people. 

Contracting documents issued July 1 state the government is looking for vendors who can supply tools to monitor officers with the Federal Protective Service who guard federal grounds and those who work and visit there.

Currently, officers defend facilities and screen people "with little direct oversight by FPS employees," according to the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the service.

A Federal Protective Service official said the purpose of establishing the system is not to monitor inside threats.  

The Post Tracking System would need to verify the "training, certifications and suitability" of the officers against 30 required credentials, including "baton training, firearm training, CPR certification, etc.,” project specifications state.

It also would check the identity of a person attempting to staff a post. The technology would be able to "identify that a post is not staffed or is improperly staffed,” DHS officials said.

It would alert a designated agency manager if a post is unstaffed. 

The system also would record basic clock-in and clock-out data, such as an officer’s transition to another post and invoices for contract guard companies. 

Part of the operation would involve a database that maintains records on each individual’s training and certifications, according to the documents.

The contract notice "is specifically focused on improving the oversight and efficiency of the approximately 13,000 contracted protective security officers at federal facilities across the nation," Federal Protective Service officials said in an emailed statement. 

A governmentwide effort is underway to computerize surveillance of the backgrounds and behaviors of personnel holding sensitive duties, to prevent physical attacks and cyber incidents.

For example, after gunman Aaron Alexis accessed Navy Yard facilities, despite a history of mental illness and disciplinary problems, the administration began reforming the security clearance process.

A March interagency report recommended linking various employee records systems, criminal databases and financial reporting mechanisms to move from periodic personnel evaluations to a process of continuous evaluation. It also advised the administration expand rules for “reporting actions and behavior of employees and contractors to support decisions on access to facilities.”

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