(WASHINGTON)—The American Federation of Government Employees today expressed outrage at Bush’s FY08 Budget Proposal, and subsequently, a Federal Protective Service (FPS) initiative that essentially would cut jobs and restructure the agency.
“With the FY08 budget proposal, the administration is proposing to walk away from its basic responsibility to protect critical federal assets and infrastructures around the country by calling for the elimination of a major portion of uniformed FPS officers who currently are patrolling key federal installations around the country,” AFGE National President John Gage said.
“To say that AFGE is strongly opposed to this proposal is an understatement,” Gage said. “These officers represent an essential element of our homeland security efforts. Rather than ending this program, we believe the administration should be proposing a significant strengthening of FPS. Uniformed federal personnel should, and must be on guard at federal facilities at all times.”
FPS law enforcement currently is comprised of inspectors and police officers. Inspectors generally spend about 25 percent of their time on law enforcement patrol and response, and 75 percent on security assessments, or office work. Police officers, on the other hand, are 100 percent dedicated to law enforcement patrol, response and preliminary investigations. The Bush proposal would eliminate the police officer position.
“AFGE is shocked and appalled that the president would move to cut such a vital homeland security program—one that protects thousands of potentially vulnerable federal buildings, not to mention the employees who work there, the public who visit them, and the surrounding community,” Gage added. “In a post-9/11 world, eliminating this kind of protection is foolhardy, to say the least.”
“This all came about because there is a $65 million deficit for the remainder of FY07,” said David Wright, president of AFGE Local 918, which represents almost 1,000 FPS employees. “Instead of working with Congress to remedy the deficit, FPS is moving forward with a convoluted plan that will result in the loss of jobs and jeopardize the nation’s safety. This not only won’t fix the deficit, but will cause problems for the future of FPS.”
AFGE additionally is concerned that the FPS memo sent to employees regarding its new plan insinuates that AFGE Local 918 supports the FPS plan, which it does not. In fact, Wright is meeting with members of Congress to ask for a cease-and-desist order so that FPS cannot implement its plan.
AFGE represents some 80 percent of the Federal Protective Service workforce, which provides security for approximately 8800 federal buildings, including federal courthouses. In addition, FPS assists in emergency situations, such as after Hurricane Katrina when FPS officers were among the first on the scene in New Orleans.