Security Protection

Costs of Services Provided for Selected Cabinet Officials Gao ID: GGD-95-50 December 30, 1994

From October 1991 through June 1994, security protection was provided on at least one occasion to each of the cabinet-level secretaries of the 10 departments GAO reviewed. The extent and frequency of protection varied significantly from department to department but generally included protecting the secretaries while they worked in their offices, attended public events, and traveled on official business; the secretaries of two departments received protection during personal business on five occasions. In addition, two departments sometimes provided protection for their deputy secretaries, and another department once provided temporary protection to another high-level official in the department who had been threatened. The 10 departments reported spending a total of $1.5 million to protect officials in fiscal year 1992, $1.6 million in fiscal year 1993, and $2 million for the first nine months of fiscal year 1994. Although some security personnel said that the secretaries of their departments were recognized by the general public, they justified the need for providing security protection to the officials mainly because of threats from persons who were affected by the policies and issues handled by the department or who were suffering from mental problems. Security officials at all 10 departments said that their agents had attended or were scheduled to attend executive protection training courses offered by law enforcement agencies such as the U.S. Secret Service. Although some agents said that they sometimes carried baggage or checked officials through hotels, the agents said they did so because they were the only staff traveling with officials or because they considered these duties to be security related.

GAO found that: (1) from October 1991 through June 1994, each of the 10 cabinet secretaries received security protection on at least one occasion; (2) although the extent and frequency of security protection varied significantly among the departments, it generally included protecting the secretaries at their offices and public events, and on official travel; (3) on five occasions, two secretaries received protection while on personal business; (4) two departments occasionally provided protection for their deputy secretaries and one department provided short-term protection to a high-level official who had been threatened; (5) security personnel believed that their protective services were needed due to potential threats to department officials; (6) the 10 departments spent $1.5 million in fiscal year (FY) 1992 on protective services, travel, training, and equipment, $1.6 million in FY 1993, and $2 million in the first 9 months of FY 1994; (7) security protection costs at three departments increased significantly in FY 1994 because of more controversial departmental policies, increased travel, and one secretary's greater public recognition; (8) some security agents reported that they occasionally carried baggage or checked officials through hotels because they either were the only staff available or considered such duties to be security related; and (9) all security agents attended executive protection training courses offered through their own departments or by law enforcement agencies.

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