Security Systems News

AUG 2019

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Page 14 of 28

By Lilly Chapa T he Security i ndustry Association's 16th annual GovSummit in Washing- ton, D. c . was jam-packed with ses- sions outlining the physical security chal- lenges the federal government is facing and what the security industry can do to help address them. Whether the speakers were discussing government physical access con- trol systems, federal procurement policies, critical infrastructure or soft targets, one message kept emerg- ing: the need for the government to evolve its approach to assessing, procur- ing, and deploying security assets in a time where budgets are tight and threats are constantly changing. t he changes required to evolve long- standing programs and practices are often met with hesitation and may take a long time to implement, especially at the fed- eral government level, acknowledged Scott Jones, Deputy Director for Operations at the Department of h omeland Security's Federal Protective Service. t he FPS is in charge of operational security at federal facilities across the country. "People hate change," Jones said. " i t's about being informative, so we do a lot of training with building tenants so that we can build that trust and confidence—they trust us to protect them. We give them recom- mendations, and they believe in our exper- tise and data. When people come into a facil- ity, their number one goal is to do their job, but in a safe and secure environment. Once you establish that, they have a tendency to adapt to new ways because they know it's what's best for them." FPS is hoping to foster that cooperation as they modernize the way they protect nine thousand federal buildings through- out the u nited States. t he organization not only employs 13 thousand protective ser- vice officers to oversee day-to-day building security, but has more than one thousand law enforcement professionals on hand to respond to incidents, conduct criminal investigations and complete two thousand facility security assessments per year. FPS assessments are presented to a fed- eral building's in-house security committee, which makes the final decision on what security solutions are implemented. FPS is then responsible for the acquisition, design, procurement, installation and maintenance of the equipment. Jones said a major goal for the organization in the upcoming year is to modernize its technology and the way assessments and repairs are made. "Why can't i have the capability built into FPS equipment to know the status of an alarm or camera at any given time?" Jones said. " t he technology exists, but we're not there as an agency, and we're hoping to change that this year." Jones expressed interest in using facial recognition software to allow vetted fed- eral employees seamless access to facilities in place of access control cards or showing identification. h e also said FPS is consid- ering a switch to a continuous assessment model, instead of the current labor-intensive approach. " i might not come back to a facility for three years, but environments change," he explained. "We want continuous assess- ments of these buildings and their equip- ment. t he days of spending 200 manhours to do an assessment of a building—we want to cut that down, and we firmly believe we can do it. We're trying to get more efficient and effective by modernizing government equipment in our nine thousand buildings." When it comes to physical access con- trol systems in federal buildings, it's up to each facility to choose—and fund—its own security solutions, but many are not com- plying with baseline security standards. c oming up with security funding has long been a challenge for agencies, and a panel of experts warned that federal orga- nizations are not committing to improving their physical access control. i t's been 15 years since h omeland Security Presidential Directive 12 was mandated, which estab- lished a mandatory standard for govern- ment employee identification, but a recent federal report found that facility security governance and resources are lacking, result- ing in outdated or insufficient access control solutions. "A lot of people in these agencies want to do the right thing and get it done, but can't advance because they don't have the lead- ership and vision—they're facing all these constraints," noted convergence security professional Jason r osen. "We can have all the greatest technology, but it's the door propper that creates the vulnerability, even with the best sensor. We can have the best physical access control, but if i don't have the policies and governance in place to make the technology work, it's useless." New Office of Management and Bud- get guidance encourages agency security managers to work with it departments to collaborate on a security solution and find funding together. " i t's all about the commitment from the agency—if you don't put it in the budget, it won't get there," r osen said. " t he fact that it's supposedly unfunded is convenient. t hey are viable reasons for competing pri- orities, but we've had this going on for 15 years. Do we need the next major event for physical access control to kickstart the push for funding? i would hope not, because that means people lost their lives." c onference attendees were also keen to hear Steven h aines, c ontracting and Pro- curement Division c hief at the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, discuss changes to how federal contracts will be solicited, evaluated and administered. h aines emphasized the importance of modernization throughout the process—the bureau will be shifting away from the traditional 250-page propos- als to a more agile approach that includes oral presentations and demonstrations. c on- tract proposals will also be assessed with a holistic cost analysis approach, so that a contract bid with a low rate is not cutting costs elsewhere. " i t's untenable to have the bottom dollar drive our contracting decisions," h aines said. "We're trying to communicate that sav- ing money is not the primary thing we're looking at. y es, we want to use tax dollars as responsibly as we can, but our first responsi- bility is quality. We want you to articulate not necessarily dollars but benefits, the total pic- ture of recruitment and retainment—what are you going to do to grow these people so they will stay with you, and by proxy us?" t he federal government is also changing the way it approaches procuring security products by simplifying the process and con- solidating schedules from 24 to one, which officials hope will emphasize the role of it in physical access security solutions. "One of the challenges we've seen is the nexus between the security apparatus and traditional it ," said h aines during a panel discussion. " h istorically, there is a push and pull between security and it , but there's a slow recognition that we need to consider the it contracting method when consider- ing these systems. As we look at schedule consolidation and elimination of having to choose where something belongs, taking that difficulty out of the mix is something we welcome." Brian h arrell, Assistant Director for i nfrastructure Security at the newly-formed c ybersecurity and i nfrastructure Security Agency, also emphasized the importance of both physical and digital security, and how the agency is helping private sector organi- zations harden critical infrastructure. t he main goal of ci SA is to raise the security baseline across the country with tools, pro- grams and compliance programs. One key to achieving that is through granting security clearances to the right people, he noted. " t he private sector security clearance pro- gram has had its hiccups," h arrell said. " i 'm trying to streamline that process, get rid of the backlog and communicate expectations of what it takes to achieve private sector clearance. i f you do not use your security clearance you will lose it. A lot of people need those clearances, and i want to make sure the right people are getting them." h e also discussed the government's evolv- ing role in protecting critical infrastructure, which today has grown to encompass pub- lic spaces, places of worship and other soft targets. "We've gravitated towards a more uncom- fortable conversation about the threat of tar- geting our most innocent and vulnerable," h arrell said. "We are marshalling resources and investing in these issues. i t's outside our traditional role—it's not the power grid or water systems or financial systems, that hardcore critical infrastructure. But we're gravitating and moving towards the threat. i t's changing and we need to evolve and change with it." A subsequent panel of government and community officials further delved into the challenges of finding the resources to protect soft targets, especially with tight or nonexis- tent budgets, and what the federal govern- ment can do to help. Steve Sprague with the t ransportation Security Administration discussed the agency's efforts to educate the large capacity vehicle industry on preventing vehicular or ramming attacks. "We issue annual updates that contain strategies for our stakeholders—primarily truck and bus companies and those that pro- tect the infrastructure," Sprague said. " e very mile of road is a potential point of interrup- tion. We speak to commercial carriers to try to protect their fleets from hijack, theft or insider threat. We also encourage them to reach out to their communities with the message that no community is immune to this threat. t he worst words we can hear— and we hear all too often—is that it can't happen here." Look for more GovSummit insights in the next issue of SSN, including the opportuni- ties and challenges new security technology is creating for federal, state and local govern- ments. ssn Lilly Chapa is an award-winning writer who contributes a monthly feature to SSN. Gov't aims to modernize physical security SIA GovSummit coverage: Government agencies intend to evolve their security approach to address changing technology, threats and budgets Lilly Chapa august 2019 s EC u RI t Y s Y st EM s NEW s special report 10

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