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WASHINGTON, DC-In a report delivered to the chairman of the US Representatives’ Committee on Government Reform, the US General Accountability Office concluded that the nation’s monuments, icons and federal office structures are at risk of terrorist attack. The report maintains that plans should be instituted to better protect these facilities.

In the document entitled “Actions Needed to Better Protect National Icons and Federal Office Buildings from Terrorism,” the GAO notes that the US Department of the Interior, in its efforts to protect monuments and icons, is contending with the challenge of maintaining a certain level of security while allowing public access. It is also addressing jurisdictional and competing stakeholder issues and providing adequate security for national treasures located in isolated areas. “Effectively addressing these challenges is vital for Interior because highly visible assets such as the Washington Monument and Mt. Rushmore National Memorial could be targeted for symbolic reasons and for the purpose of harming people,” GAO officials note in the report. The US General Services Administration faces the same secure public access and jurisdictional issues as the Interior, in addition to providing security for federally leased office space, and adjusting to the relocation of the Federal Protective Service from GSA to the Department of Homeland Security, according to the report.

The GAO wrapped up the report with suggestions for both Interior and GSA on improving the security situations The GAO recommends that the Secretary of the Interior “link the results of its risk assessments and related risk rankings to its funding priorities and develop guiding principles for balancing security initiatives with Interior’s core mission.” GAO also recommends that the Administrator of GSA establish a mechanism–such as a chief security officer position or formal point of contact–so it is better equipped to address security-related matters related to its federal building portfolio.” While GSA replied in agreement with GAO’s suggestions, Interior did not offer a response to the recommendations.

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