A new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identifies various security staffing approaches used by government agencies. The purpose of the report was to assist the Federal Protective Service improve their security staffing efforts. However, some of the GAO’s findings are useful for the private sector, particularly their enumeration of benefits and challenges of contract and proprietary security forces.
Benefits of a contract security force include cost and personnel flexibility while proprietary security force benefits include staff selection, development and retention. Interestingly, GAO identified the benefits of each staffing approach as the challenges of the other staffing approach.
“Early planning to determine security staffing needs and sufficient oversight were cited as key lessons learned when changing staffing approaches.” Specifically, GAO identified the need for a risk-based assessment of the organization to identify administrative and training capabilities to support the security force. “We have previously reported that assessing and determining facility security and staffing needs is a key practice and element in a risk management approach for allocating resources in facility protection.” In the end, GAO’s findings indicate that “if the process is well managed, either an in-house or contract approach to staffing a security workforce can result in a uniform security workforce that provides effective security.”