National Security

Thousands Of US Buildings Unsafe From Terror 8 Years After Deadly Warnings

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Mark Tapscott Executive Editor, Chief of Investigative Group
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Thousands of federal buildings are in danger of having “an active shooter, terrorist attack, or theft of government property” because the General Services Administration (GSA) has ignored an eight-year old order to stop issuing ID badges that are easily counterfeited.

“The widespread use of building badges and the weak internal controls over building badge systems increase the risk of unauthorized access to GSA-managed facilities. Unauthorized access to a federal facility increases the risk of a security event, such as an active shooter, terrorist attack, or theft of government property, as well as exposure of sensitive and proprietary information,” the GSA inspector general said in a report made public Wednesday.

Even worse, the IG said its investigators found “that GSA cannot determine the extent of these problems because it does not centrally monitor the management of building badges issued by its staff” in thousands of federal facilities managed by the government’s central housekeeping agency. The agency doesn’t know how many such badges are currently in circulation.

A Department of Homeland Security directive to federal officials to stop using such security badges was issued in 2008.

Among the “serious security risks” the IG found:

• Contractor employees who had been judged “unfit” due to unfavorable background investigations who nevertheless had active building badges.

• Inactive contractor employees who had active building badges.

• Building badges with no expiration dates issued by GSA to contractor employees.

• Instances where non-GSA tenant agencies had issued building badges to GSA contractor employees.

• Staff who were inadequately trained on the issuance of building badges.

• Building badge IT systems that were unsecure.

More than 376.9 million square feet of space in 9,600 buildings in more than 2,200 communities nationwide is owned or leased by GSA, which also manages critical federal facilities such as ports of entry, federal courthouses, laboratories, post offices and data centers that could become terrorist targets. (RELATED: “Security Slips At Federal Building Where ISIS Attack Was Recently Thwarted”)

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