Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Public Data Ferret On KOMO 1000: Smuggling Weapons & Explosives Into Federal Buildings

by Matt Rosenberg April 28th, 2010

Today was the third regular weekly Public Data Ferret segment on KOMO 1000 News Radio Seattle, with “Nine2Noon” show co-host Brian Calvert and co-anchor Marina Rockinger, subbing for Nancy Barrick. We were talking about a report highlighted at this blog’s Public Data Ferret information hub from The U.S. Government Accountability Office about shortcomings in security at major federal office buildings and courthouses. Here’s the audio of the whole segment and below, the transcript.

Brian Calvert: “Even after increased security measures, a new report suggests weapons are being smuggled into federal buildings at an alarming rate. Matt Rosenberg joins us, he’s with communityforums.org, and as part of that Web site, the Public Data Ferret. Matt, you took a look at a recent study about security in federal buildings. Tell us what you found.”

Matt Rosenberg: “You bet, Brian. Good morning to you and Marina. Since the year 1995 and the bombing in Oklahoma City, we’re now spending $659 million annually for 15,000 contract security guards to protect the busiest federal office buildings and courthouses. The agency is called the Federal Protective Service, but yes, as the new report indicates, there’s a real issue with the quality of the protection. The Government Accountability Office – which is Congress’ version of Brian Sonntag, if you will, our wonderful state auditor – has found serious problems in the performance of the guards. A new report reveals that undercover investigators are able to keep smuggling weapons and explosives into the most public federal facilities at a high rate of success.”

“Now in this report, they remind Congress first, things were already bad, that there’s July 2009 data showing that 10 of 10 attempts were successful to smuggle in components of Improvised Explosive Devices. But here’s the kicker. The new report discloses that things still aren’t good. They’ve done more of this so-called “penetration testing,” 53 different tests were run, and two out of three times, investigators were able to smuggle in – through the checkpoints, past the contract security guards – things like guns, knives and fake bombs. Now, you know, a batting average of .333 will put you on the All-Star Team in baseball, but not in security work – it should put you on the bench. And that’s what GAO is basically saying in this new report.”

Marina Rockinger: “Well Matt, I want to ask you, you just almost answered the question I was about to ask you, which was, is this stuff coming in through the front door? Because I’ve been in the Seattle federal courthouse, a few times, and my shoes will set the thing off, and they’ll tell me, ‘okay, go back, we’ve got to check you again.’ They look at my computer, they look at a lot of things. How is this stuff getting in through the front door?”

Matt Rosenberg: “Well, I think in most facilities, it is. And probably, they’ve got a tightly run operation there, and maybe that’s not one of the places where this is a really really big problem. But they ran these tests all over the country, in six of the eleven regions that are covered by the Federal Protective Service. So, all in all, they’re finding across the nation that, you know, the batting average is not great. And, it could be sometimes that just because the detectors get set off by something in somebody’s shoes, that other times, things slip by. So, on average, it’s not looking good, that’s what the GAO is saying.”

Brian Calvert: “Interesting stuff. If you want to find out more about what Matt found in this report, you can go to communityforums.org and click on the Public Data Ferret, and find out more information. Matt, thanks for joining us this morning. It is 9:19 here at KOMO News Radio.”

RELATED: KOMO-AM 1000 broadcasts are live-streamed here.

2 Responses to “Public Data Ferret On KOMO 1000: Smuggling Weapons & Explosives Into Federal Buildings”

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