Shortly after the May 2010 decision to double down on RAMP, DHS leadership reassigned then-FPS director Gary Schenkel to a job in department headquarters. Government Executive, a trade publication, reported that the move came in the wake of criticisms from GAO about gaps in federal building security.
The RAMP program had not received much investigative or congressional scrutiny before Schenkel’s removal from FPS, but his reassignment bolstered demands from Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson for an investigation. “Until these issues are resolved our federal buildings and the federal employees who work in them remain vulnerable,” Thompson said in May 2010. ”As the department looks for a new FPS director, it must continue to move forward with renewal and reform at this beleaguered agency.”
In September 2010, Obama appointed L. Eric Patterson to lead FPS, a position he has held until now. Patterson is a former principal at Booz Allen, according to his biography on the DHS website.
The inspector general determined that upon taking the job, Patterson apparently decided to stop developing RAMP. Still, he authorized further payments to Booz Allen to maintain the RAMP system containing all the agency’s data until either a replacement is found or FPS determines how to redeploy the information into a new system.
Rep. Thompson’s objections caught GAO’s attention in 2011. The agency issued a scathing report in July 2011, concluding that RAMP was “over budget, behind schedule, and cannot be used to complete FSAs [facility security assessments] and reliable guard inspections as intended.”
Patterson’s inaction has now continued for nearly two years, enriching Booz Allen in the process, without a viable solution on the table. GAO’s Mark Goldstein told Homeland Security Today this month that problems inside FPS “remain outstanding and continue to challenge them.”
Andy Priest, who leads the FPS reform group Project1949, told The Daily Caller that “RAMP is the black sheep that everyone in FPS wishes could go away.”
“When Director Patterson was appointed from Booz Allen Hamilton to the FPS it was no secret that RAMP was a serious problem,” Priest wrote in an email. “Yet there was no action taken on RAMP for over a year.”
“The 9/11 Commission said that one of the biggest failures in the National Security community was a lack of imagination to face the threats of the future,” Priest added. ”You have to wonder about how neglected an agency must be for its own chief executive to be left unaware of what is taking place. This is a 1,200-man agency; it shouldn’t take another ten years to solve the problems that have spent ten years being discovered.”
FPS spokesman Robert Winchester refused to answer questions. Instead, he referred TheDC to Department of Homeland Security NPPD spokesman Bob Davis, who pointed to testimony Patterson has given to Congress. Patterson told lawmakers that he was planning development of a “second generation of RAMP” that would “address GAO’s recommendations.”
That was more than a year ago.
When pressed to say whether Patterson made any decisions that resulted in payments to Booz Allen, Davis said, “The answer is no.”
That stands in direct contradiction to the inspector general’s report, however, which said, “FPS officials told us that the FPS director reached this decision after he, senior FPS officials, program managers, and end users held a series of meetings at headquarters and regional offices to discuss problems with RAMP.”
Despite’s Patterson decision to stop RAMP’s development, the system is still in use and Booz Allen is earning money by keeping it operational. ”Although FPS is no longer developing RAMP,” the report added, “it is still using the system to manage its guard force through post inspections.”
Davis also refused to answer whether DHS stood by its praise for Burrill when she received the award from NextGov.
“Booz Allen is very proud of the important work we perform for our clients within the Department of Homeland Security,” company spokesman James Fisher told TheDC, ”but we would refer any questions on this program to the agency.”
FPS is required to have a plan in place to fix RAMP’s problems by the end of July. As of early April 2012, the agency had no plan.