Guarding America: Security Guards and U.S. Critical Infrastructure
CRS Report for Congress
Security Guards and U.S. Critical
Updated January 27, 2005
Paul W. Parfomak
Specialist in Science and Technology
Resources, Science, and Industry Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Guarding America: Security Guards and
U.S. Critical Infrastructure Protection
The Bush Administration’s 2003 National Strategy for the Physical Protection
of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets indicates that security guards are “an
important source of protection for critical facilities.” In 2003, approximately one
million security guards (including airport screeners) were employed in the United
States. Of these guards, analysis indicates that up to 5% protected what have been
defined as “critical” infrastructure and assets.
The effectiveness of critical infrastructure guards in countering a terrorist attack
depends on the number of guards on duty, their qualifications, pay and training.
Security guard employment may have increased in certain critical infrastructure
sectors since September 11, 2001, although overall employment of U.S. security
guards has declined in the last five years. Contract guard salaries averaged $19,400
per year in 2003, less than half of the average salary for police and well below the
average U.S. salary for all occupations. There are no U.S. federal requirements for
training of critical infrastructure guards other than airport screeners and nuclear
guards. Twenty-two states do require basic training for licensed security guards, but
few specifically require counter-terrorism training. State regulations regarding
criminal background checks for security guards vary. Sixteen states have no
background check regulations.
The federal government’s role in protecting U.S. critical infrastructure has been
a concern of Congress since 9/11. Part of this concern involves the possible
imposition of federal security requirements, including guard requirements, on
infrastructure which is largely private. The Private Security Officer Employment
Authorization Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-458, Sec. 6402) facilitates employer access to
FBI criminal records to conduct background checks of security guard employees.
Other legislation proposed in the 108th Congress would have required private security
guard companies to perform criminal background checks, would have prohibited the
hiring of guards who failed background checks, or would have directed the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct security guard emergency
training, including training for “acts of terrorism.” The DHS currently does not have
counter-terrorism training programs specifically for private security guards.
There appears to be no federal or state policy that explicitly addresses critical
infrastructure guards as a distinctive group. If homeland security policy evolves
towards special treatment of critical infrastructure guards, responsible agencies may
face a challenge identifying those guards because of uncertainties in identifying
critical assets. Federal counter-terrorism funding for critical infrastructure guards
may also present a policy challenge, since 87% of these guards are in the private
sector. It is an open question whether private operators of critical infrastructure have
hired, trained, and otherwise supported security guards to the degree warranted by the
social value of the facilities they protect. As Congress continues its oversight of
homeland security, funding for private guards may emerge as a security consideration
where public benefits and private resources may not align. This report will not be
In troduction ......................................................1
Issues Facing Congress.........................................2
What is “Critical Infrastructure”?.................................3
Security Guards and Critical Infrastructure Protection.................4
Security Guard Police Powers................................4
Critical Infrastructure Protection Responsibilities.................5
Guards Deployed at Critical Infrastructure......................6
Critical Infrastructure Guards................................6
The Contract Guard Industry.................................7
U.S. Security Guard Employment Trends...........................8
Total U.S. Guard Employment Trends.........................8
Airport Screener Trends.....................................9
Nuclear Plant Guard Trends.................................10
Guard Trends in Other Critical Sectors........................10
Guard Staffing Levels .........................................12
Pay for Critical Guards........................................13
Guard Salaries and Qualifications............................14
Higher Pay for Critical Infrastructure Guards?..................15
Criminal Backgrounds and Terrorism.........................16
Background Check Limitations..............................16
U.S. and European Guard Training Hours......................18
DHS Guard Training......................................20
Counter-Terror Training for Critical Guards....................22
DHS Grants for Guard Training..............................22
Government Oversight of Staff Guards........................23
Other Security Guard Issues.....................................23
Contract vs. Staff Guard Performance.........................23
Civilian Guards at Military Bases............................24
Nuclear Plant Guard Capabilities.............................24
Foreign-Owned Guard Contractors...........................24
Appendix 1. California Mandatory Security Guard Training Materials — Terrorism
Figure 1. Total U.S. Police and Guards (except Screeners)..............9
Figure 2. Total U.S. Airport Screeners..............................10
Figure 3. Average Annual Salaries for U.S. Occupations, 2003..........14
Figure 4. Hours of Security Guard Training Required by State 2004.....18
Figure 5. Hours of U.S. and E.U. Required Guard Training 2002........19
List of Tables
Table 1. 2003 Total U.S. Security Guard Employment....................6
Table 2: U.S. Private Guard Contractor Key Operating Statistics 2003........7
Guarding America: Security Guards and
U.S. Critical Infrastructure Protection
On August 1, 2004, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a
terrorism alert for critical financial institutions in New York, Washington, DC and
Newark, NJ. Press reports indicated that these institutions employed security guards,
and that surveillance by terrorists included the location, armament, and activity of1
those guards. Widely deployed among transportation hubs, power plants, and other
nationally important facilities, such security guards are viewed by many as both a
vital element of terror deterrence and the first line of response to terrorist attacks.
The Bush Administration shares this view. In the National Strategy for the Physical
Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets the administration identifies
security guards as “an important source of protection for critical facilities.”2 The
nation’s dependence on security guards for critical infrastructure protection gives rise
to questions as to the status and capability of these guards, and federal efforts to help
them combat terrorism.
In 2003, there were approximately one million security guards (including airport
screeners) employed in the United States — compared to 650,000 U.S. police3
officers. Nearly half of these guards were employed directly by the institutions they
served; the rest, approximately 53% of all guards, worked for contract guard
companies providing outsourced guard services.
This report provides background information concerning security guards in the
United States and their role in critical infrastructure protection. It analyzes trends in
the number and deployment of security guards, including effects of the terror attacks
1 Eggen, D. and Mintz, J. “Washington and N.Y. Put on Alert.” Washington Post. August
2 Office of the President. The National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical
Infrastructure and Key Assets. Feb. 2003. p29.
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). “National employment and wage data from the
Occupational Employment Statistics survey by occupation, May 2003.” Table 1. and U.S.
Census Bureau. Statistics of U.S. Businesses: 2001. “Armored car services.” Note that the
BLS definition of “security guards” includes approximately 32,000 armored transport guards
and excludes private investigation, private corrections, airport screening, and gaming
surveillance workers. “Police” includes bailiffs, fish and game wardens, parking
enforcement workers, police and sheriff’s patrol officers, and transit and railroad police.
There were also approximately 48,000 airport screeners employed in Oct., 2003. See Miller,
Leslie. “Airport Security Still Weak in Areas Terrorists Likely to Exploit, Federal Official
Tells Lawmakers.” Associated Press. Oct. 17, 2003.
of September 11, 2001 (9/11). It discusses the wages paid to security guards
compared to similar workers, and the relationship between pay and workforce
effectiveness. The report reviews the qualifications and training of security guards,
including background checks, highlighting recent changes related to counter
terrorism and state-to-state differences in qualification requirements. Finally the
report discusses policy considerations of potential interest to Congress.
Issues Facing Congress
The role of the federal government in protecting the nation’s critical
infrastructure has been a fundamental concern of Congress since 9/11. Part of this
concern involves the potential imposition of federal security requirements, including
guard requirements, on infrastructure which lies largely in the private sector. Among
nuclear power plants, for example, the federal government has required more training
and staffing of private guards since 9/11. Airport screeners have been federalized
outright. As U.S. homeland security policy evolves, direct federal intervention in the
protection of other critical infrastructure, including chemical plants, banks, and
communications networks, is becoming an increasingly important issue.
Critical infrastructure is found in many congressional districts. By definition,
a terrorist attack on such infrastructure would affect not only local communities, but
the nation as a whole. Faced with the widely perceived need for greater critical
infrastructure protection, some in Congress are examining the adequacy of current
U.S. counter-terrorism activities, including the role and capabilities of security
guards. If Congress concludes that the effectiveness of security guards could be
enhanced, Congress may consider additional guard-related legislation (such as H.R.
4830 of the 108th Congress), or may exercise its oversight authority in other ways to
influence security guard capabilities and deployment.
What is “Critical Infrastructure”?
What U.S. policy makers consider to be “critical infrastructure” has been
evolving and is often ambiguous. Twenty years ago, “infrastructure” was defined
primarily with respect to the adequacy of the nation’s public works. In the mid-
1990’s, however, the growing threat of international terrorism led policy makers to
reconsider the definition of “infrastructure” in the context of homeland security.
Successive federal government reports, laws, and executive orders have refined, and
generally expanded, the number of infrastructure sectors and the types of assets
considered to be “critical” for purposes of homeland security. Currently, the USA
PATRIOT Act of 2001(P.L. 107-56) defines “critical infrastructure” as:
systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that
the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating
impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety,
or any combination of those matters (Sec. 1016e).
This definition was adopted, by reference, in the Homeland Security Act of 2002
(P.L. 107-296, Sec. 2.4) establishing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The National Strategy also adopts the definition of “critical infrastructure” in P.L.
falling under that definition:
— Information technology — Drinking water / water treatment
— Telecommunications — Energy
— Chemicals — Banking and finance
— Transportation systems — National monuments and icons
— Emergency services — Defense industrial base
— Postal and shipping services — Key industry / technology sites
— Agriculture and food — Large gathering sites
— Public health and healthcare
The critical infrastructure sectors in the National Strategy contain many physical
assets, but only a fraction of these could be viewed as critical according to the DHS
definition. For example, out of 33,000 individual assets cataloged in DHS’s
“national asset database,” the agency considers only 1,700, or 5%, to be nationally
critical.4 The 33,000 assets in the DHS database themselves constitute only a subset
of all assets in the critical infrastructure sectors.5 Because federal agencies, state
agencies and the private sector often have different views of what constitutes
criticality, compiling a consensus list of nationally critical assets has been an ongoing
challenge for DHS. The implications of this challenge as it relates to security guards
is discussed later in this report.
Security Guards and Critical Infrastructure Protection
Protecting people and property from accidents and crime is the principal role of
security guards. They monitor, patrol, and inspect property to protect against fire,
theft, vandalism, and other illegal activity. They may enforce laws on their
employer’s grounds, conduct incident interviews, prepare incident reports, and
provide legal testimony. Guards may work at one location, or may patrol among
multiple locations to conduct security checks. Security guards typically use radios
and telephones to call for assistance from police, fire, or other emergency services
as required. They may be armed, as required by specific duty assignments, consistent
with state and federal laws governing private ownership and use of firearms.
4 Liscouski, Robert, Asst. Sec., Infrastructure Protection, Dept. of Homeland Security,
Testimony before the House Select Committee on Homeland Security; Infrastructure and
Border Security Subcommittee. April 21, 2004. Note that DHS’s list of 1,700 critical assets
may not include the 430 U.S. commercial airports with passenger screeners, whose security
is primarily administered by the Transportation Security Administration.
5 For example, in the chemicals sector, DHS has identified 4,000 facilities as potentially
critical out of 66,000 total U.S. chemical sites. See Liscouski, Robert, Asst. Sec.
Infrastructure Security, Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS). Testimony before the House
Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats
and International Relations. Combating Terrorism: Chemical Plant Security. Serial No. 108-
Although security guards, in general, share many common responsibilities, they
may also face unique duties at particular institutions. In banks, for example, guards
protect customers, money, safety deposit boxes, and records. They may work with
bank detectives to prevent theft and apprehend criminal suspects before police arrive.
By comparison, transportation terminal guards (e.g., airport screeners) protect
travelers, freight, luggage, and equipment. They may screen passengers for weapons
and explosives, ensure no property is stolen while being loaded or unloaded, and
watch for fires and criminal activity.6
Security Guard Police Powers. Although security guards have long
supplemented public law enforcement, they typically have more limited authorities
than police and other law officers. Specific powers vary by jurisdiction, but they
generally correspond to the police authorities of private citizens.
In most states, citizens may make arrests only when a crime is committed in their
presence; suspicion that a crime has taken place is not enough. And in some
states, citizens may only make arrests for felonies, and then must immediately
turn the suspect over to a police officer. Even those guards who do see felonies
in progress are advised to arrest with caution. Unlike police officers, civilians7
who accidentally take innocent suspects into custody are liable for false arrest.
Security guards may have other authorities or may face further limitations to
their police power according to state licensing or other regulation, where it exists.
For example, the following authorities are listed in California’s security guard
!As an agent of the employer, a security guard can question an
individual on the employer’s property and may prevent entry to the
property by standing in the individual’s way.
!Although a security guard has the power of citizen’s arrest, a guard
is not obligated by law to make arrests.
!A security guard should never touch a criminal suspect except for
self defense, or when necessary to use reasonable force in an arrest.
!If a security guard believes an arrested person is armed, the guard
may search for weapons only. A suspect may not be legally searched
for weapons unless he is actually arrested.
!A security guard cannot legally carry a firearm or baton without a
state permit and a valid security guard license.8
6 BLS. Occupational Outlook Handbook 2004-05 Edition. “Security Guards and Gaming
Surveillance Officers.” [http://bls.gov/oco/ocos159.htm]. Visited July 21, 2004.
7 Carlson, T. “Safety Inc.: Private Cops Are There When You Need Them.” Policy Review.
No. 73. Summer 1995.
8 State of California, Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). “Power to Arrest
Critical Infrastructure Protection Responsibilities. Since the terror
attacks of 9/11, protecting against terrorism has been an additional responsibility for
many security guards — especially for guards associated with critical infrastructure.
Security guards are viewed by many as a necessary supplement to the counter
terrorism activities of public law enforcement agencies, which have limited resources
and broad responsibilities. According to congressional testimony by one guard
Law enforcement agencies [have] been called upon to fulfill two fundamentally
different and competing missions — to deter domestic crime while also being
engaged in the fight against potentially new and devastating terrorist attacks
orchestrated from abroad. Unfortunately, there are simply neither the public
resources nor the personnel to do the job.... Consequently ... security officers are9
being asked to fill the gap.
The increased counter terrorism role for security guards has become apparent
in many private and public sector security plans. In the refinery industry, for
example, security guidelines during a DHS “orange” alert call for engaging a “trained
and knowledgeable” security workforce, increasing patrols, inspecting vehicles, and
other security activities that may rely on security guards.10 Counter terrorism
activities of security guards in other key sectors are discussed later in this report.
Guards Deployed at Critical Infrastructure. According to the Bureau of
Labor Statistics (BLS) there were approximately 1,022,000 security guards working
in the United States in 2003 (Table 1). For the purposes of policy analysis, these
guards may be separated into two categories of employment and three categories of
service. “Contract” guards work directly for private guard companies and are
deployed under contract to other institutions. “Staff” guards are employed directly
by institutions as regular line employees. Both contract and staff guards may work
either at private facilities, government facilities, or airports. (Guard forces at airports
are mostly “airport screeners,” whose duties and employment characteristics warrant
their distinction from other guards.) The approximate number of contract and staff
guards working at all three types of institutions in 2003 is summarized in Table 1.
The BLS reports that over 14% of all security guards work part-time. The
number of part-time employees is higher among contract guards than among staff
guards. According to a 2002 survey of major contractors, 20% to 30% of contract
Training Manual.” West Sacramento, CA. Feb. 2002. pp. 6-8.
9 Walker, Don W., Chairman, Securitas Security Services USA, Inc. Testimony before the
House Judiciary Committee; Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Subcommittee.
Washington, DC. March 30, 2004.
10 American Petroleum Institute (API). Security Guidance for the Petroleum Industry. 1st
Edition. Washington, DC. March 2002. p. 21.
guards worked part-time.11 A significant number of these part-time guards are off-
duty police officers supplementing their incomes.12
Table 1. 2003 Total U.S. Security Guard Employment
P rivate Government Ai r p or t s Tot a l
Facilities Facilities (Screeners)
Contract 531,000 2,000 533,000
Staf f 351,000 85,000 53,000 489,000
Tot a l 967,000 55,000 1,022,000
Source: CRS analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and trade press data.13
Critical Infrastructure Guards. How many security guards actually protect
critical infrastructure? Only a rough estimate can be made. Although there is no
source of data detailing the number of contract security guards serving specific
industry and government sectors, the BLS does report such data for staff guards. By
totaling 2002 BLS employment figures for the appropriate industries, CRS estimates
that approximately 122,000 (28%) of staff guards (excluding airport screeners)
worked in industries corresponding to the NSPP critical infrastructure sectors.14 As
noted above, however, critical assets typically comprise only a fraction of a sector’s
total assets. Assuming, for simplicity, that guards are found only among assets in
DHS’s national asset database, and that guards are uniformly distributed across those
assets, it may be reasonable to estimate that, consistent with DHS’s critical asset
ratio, up to 5% of staff guards actually protect critical infrastructure. Further
assuming that contract guard deployment reflects staff guard deployment, the total
number of security guards protecting critical assets could be on the order of 50,000.
Such a “critical” guard force would be comparable in size to the 55,000
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and contract screeners working at the
nation’s commercial airports in 2003. Note that airport screeners are also considered
to be critical infrastructure guards for purposes of this report.
11 Security Magazine. “Security’s Top Guarding Companies.” January 2004.
12 BLS. Occupational Outlook Handbook 2004-05 Edition. “Security Guards and Gaming
Surveillance Officers.” 2004.
13 Employment data derived from: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Occupational
Employment and Wages, May 2003. Table 33 — 9032. “Security guards.”
[http://www.bls.gov/oes/2003/may/oes339032.htm.]; BLS. Total Employment by
Occupation and Industry, 2002 and Projected 2012. Table 33-9032. “Security guards.”
Trade press. Note: 2003 staff guard employment are based on the 2002 private/government
guard ratio in the BLS Total Employment table.
14 BLS. Total Employment by Occupation and Industry, 2002 and Projected 2012. Table
33-9032. “Security guards.” 2003. This estimate includes “government” guards at the
federal, state, and local level. “Government” is assumed to include “emergency services.”
The Contract Guard Industry. Table 1 shows that contract security guards
accounted for approximately 53% of all guards working in the United States in 2003.
As a business, contract guard services is one of the largest segments of the broader
security industry in the United States; its revenues of approximately $11 billion15
accounted for 30% of total security industry revenues in 2003. Contract guarding
is a somewhat fragmented industry, however, with several large national companies
and thousands of smaller regional and local companies.16 Table 2 summarizes 2003
operating statistics for the largest U.S. guard contractors. As Table 2 shows, the four
largest contractors account for 50% of industry revenues and 35% of contract
employees. These four contract guard companies are profiled in Appendix 1. The
top two contractors, Securitas U.S.A. and Wackenhut, are foreign-owned.
Table 2. U.S. Private Guard Contractor Key Operating Statistics
Company (parent)($ million)(%)(1,000s)Country
Securitas U.S.A. (Securitas)2,60823.7100Sweden
Wackenhut (Group 4 Securicor)*1,48913.538U.K.
Allied / Barton9008.236U.S.
Guardsmark 465 4.2 1 8 U.S.
TransNational Security Grp.3864.015U.S.
U.S. Security Associates3753.517U.S.
ABM Security Services2502.712U.S.
Cognisa (Group 4 Securicor)1461.36U.K.
Other Guard Contractors3,61032.8258U.S.
U.S. Total11,022100.0522 —
Source: CRS Report RL32523, The U.S. Contract Security Guard Industry: an Introduction to
Services and Firms, by Paul W. Parfomak. Financial reporting period may vary by company due to
differing accounting practices.
* Statistics include North American guard operations outside the United States.
Contract guards are widely deployed to protect critical infrastructure and key
assets. Wackenhut, for example, provides guard services to 30 of the country’s
15 Freedonia Group, Inc. Private Security Services. Study # 1773. Marketing materials.
Cleveland, OH. March, 2004. p. 1. Guarding revenues adjusted by CRS to exclude
corrections services based on reported revenues of major U.S. corrections contractors.
16 U.S. Census Bureau. Statistics of U.S. Businesses:2001. “Security guards & patrol
nuclear plants.17 Akal Security provides guard services at U.S. Army bases and
weapons depots.18 The U.S. Federal Protective Service, which safeguards all
federally owned and leased facilities nationwide, including certain critical facilities,
employs 10,000 contract security guards.19 Although there are several very large U.S.
guard contractors, critical infrastructure guards are found in both large and small
companies. For further information about the U.S. contract guard industry, see CRS
Report RL32523, The U.S. Contract Security Guard Industry: an Introduction to
Services and Firms, by Paul W. Parfomak.
U.S. Security Guard Employment Trends
One basic measure of security guard activity is year-to-year change in
employment. Analysis of the available data shows that overall employment of U.S.
security guards (excluding airport screeners) has declined over the last five years,
although guard employment has increased in certain infrastructure sectors.
Total U.S. Guard Employment Trends. Total U.S. police and security
guard employment (excluding screeners) from 1999 to 2003 is shown in Figure 1.
As the figure shows, the number of guards fell by approximately 124,000 (11%)
between 1999 and 2003, while the number of police increased by approximately
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates
(1999-2003). “Protective Service Occupations.” Published annually, 2000-2004.
Figure 1. Total U.S. Police and Guards (except Screeners)
17 Snyder, J. “GAO Questions Nuclear Industry’s Security Efforts.” The Hill. Sept. 15,
18 Akal Security. Akal Security Newsline. “Akal ‘Scores High’ with Army.” Company
newsletter. Spring 2004. p 4. and Salem, N. March 11, 2004.
19 Federal Protective Service (FPS). “Mission.” Internet home page. Oct. 2, 2004.
[ ht t p: / / www.i ce.gov/ gr aphi cs/ f ps/ i ndex.ht m] .
A decline in overall guarding jobs since 2001, notwithstanding the nation’s
heightened concerns about terrorism, would appear to contradict popular perceptions
about U.S. guard deployment. Many analysts have assumed that private guard
contractors, in particular, would see an increase in business as infrastructure owners
stepped up guarding of their facilities under more protective security plans. One
reason this increase may not have occurred is because private sector reactions to 9/11
may have been short-lived. As one major guard contractor noted in a recent investor
“Following September 11, 2001, there was a sharp increase in demand for
security, particularly in the USA .... Most of this additional demand has proved20
to be short-term.... Total market growth in 2003 was around zero percent.”
Others have suggested that, due to the U.S. economic recession which followed 9/11,
many companies were forced to cut discretionary expenses, including security guard
expenses, to maintain profitability.
Although the total number of U.S. guards appears to have declined over the last
several years, it is not clear to what degree the number of guards at critical sites
reflects this trend. It is possible that the deployment of critical infrastructure guards
increased, but that these increases were offset by larger reductions in non-critical
infrastructure guards. The following examples suggest that there are more critical
infrastructure guards, at least in several infrastructure sectors.
Airport Screener Trends. The employment trend for airport screeners has
differed from that of other guards. Figure 2 shows total U.S. employment of airport
screeners from 1999 to 2004. When airport screening was federalized after
September 11, 2001, the number of screeners more than doubled to approximately
60,000 in November, 2003.21 The TSA has subsequently reduced the screening work
force to 44,000 workers, although this number of screeners is still 57% higher than
20 Securitas, Inc. “The Security Industry - The Security Market.” Company Web page.
21 Note that approximately one-third of these 60,000 workers were employed specifically as
baggage screeners (as opposed to passenger screeners) under a new requirement in the
Aviation and Transportation Security Act (P.L. 107-71).
Figure 2. Total U.S. Airport Screeners
Sources: General Accounting Office (GAO). Aviation Security. GAO/RCED-00-75. June 2000. p18;
O’Rourke, L.M. “Air Safety Bill OK’d by House.” Sacramento Bee. Nov. 2, 2001; Transportation
Security Administration (TSA). Internal database. June, 2003 and April, 2004. Note: Because
screener employment estimates are only available for specific months during the 1999-2004 period,
annual averages may differ from these values.
Nuclear Plant Guard Trends. Nuclear power plants have long been
recognized as potential terrorist targets. Consequently, their security is regulated by
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). In response to the terror attacks of 9/11,
and specific intelligence about potential attacks on U.S. nuclear facilities, the NRC
has increased nuclear plant guard staffing requirements, along with other security
requirements. As a result, the total number of guards deployed among the nation’s
Guard Trends in Other Critical Sectors. There is little public information
available on security guard employment trends at the sector level for infrastructures
other than airports and nuclear plants. Anecdotal reports within sectors suggest some
increase in guards at other potentially critical facilities. It may not be appropriate to
generalize these anecdotes to all other critical facilities, nor is it clear whether these
guard increases have been sustained. Nonetheless, the following examples do
illustrate a range of guard deployment policies among critical infrastructure sectors
!Security costs at four downtown Los Angeles skyscrapers, including
the U.S Bank Tower, reportedly increased 25% between 2001 and
buildings was budgeted “slightly” lower for 2003.
!In a 2002 security review of 15 financial market organizations
(including 7 “critical” ones), the GAO found increased deployment
22 Hornaday, Bill W. “Union Questions Nuclear Security.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Sept. 11, 2004.
23 King, Danny. “Security Loosens, Except Downtown — Commercial Property Owners in
Los Angeles Relax Security Measures.” Los Angeles Business Journal. Oct. 28, 2002.
of security guards over pre-9/11 deployment. Some organizations
used more guards for patrols, others for greater armed response, and
one to initiate vehicle screening.24
!In 2003, the GAO found that seven chemical facilities visited by
GAO staff had increased the number of security guards in response
to chemical industry security guidance developed after 9/11.
Nineteen other chemical facilities were unwilling to host GAO
visits.25 The GAO did not indicate if any of the facilities might be
!The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP), spent
$7 million to “double” its city and ground-based security patrols in
FY2001. This patrol budget decreased to $5 million in both FY2002
and FY2003, although the utility proposed increasing it again to $7
million for FY2004.26
!The American Petroleum Institute (API) has reported that, since
9/11, some oil pipeline operators, including operators of critical
systems, have “used guard patrols at certain facilities under certain
threat conditions.”27 The API does not report a baseline increase in
guards among pipeline operators.
!The Jamestown-Surry (Virginia) ferry system hired 12-15 guards
under a six-month contract for passenger and vehicle screening
beginning July, 2004.28
The examples above indicate that the timing, level and duration of changes in guard
employment may vary considerably within and across critical infrastructure sectors.
24 General Accounting Office (GAO). POTENTIAL TERRORIST ATTACKS: Additional
Actions Needed to Better Prepare Critical Financial Market Participants. GAO-035-251.
Feb. 2003. pp. 5, 63.
25 General Accounting Office (GAO). HOMELAND SECURITY: Voluntary Initiatives Are
Under Way at Chemical Facilities,but the Extent of Security Preparedness Is Unknown.
GAO-03-439. March, 2003. p. 26.
26 Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power (LADWP). “Mayor Hahn, LADWP Announce
Increased Security Measures for LA’s Water and Power System.” Press release. March 20,
2003; LADWP. Proposed Financial Plans and Budgets - Power and Water Revenue Funds
(Draft). May 18, 2004. Note that LADWP’s fiscal year ends June 30.
27 American Petroleum Institute (API). “Security Planning and Preparedness in the Oil
Pipeline Industry.” Web page. Washington, DC. August 2004. [http://api-
ep.api.org/industry/index.cf m? o b j ectid=4C891AEF-2 FF9-456C-
A96DBB05010D996A&met hod=display_body&e r=1&bitmask= 002007003000000000]
28 Associated Press. “Random Checks to Begin on Jamestown-Scotland Ferries.” June 30,
In considering the role of security guards in U.S. critical infrastructure
protection, policy analysts have focused on several key issues: staffing, pay,
background checks, and training. A few additional policy issues, such as counter-
terrorism support and contract guard cost-effectiveness, have also received some
Guard Staffing Levels
The relationship between the size of a guard force stationed at a critical facility,
and its effect on facility security is the subject of debate. Many policy analysts
assume that the security of a critical asset is proportional to the number of guards
protecting it (i.e., more guards means better security). For example, in a 2002
campaign speech, one U.S. presidential candidate called for Congress to “require
much better physical security for [chemical] plants, including more security
guards.”29 President Bush’s National Strategy likewise calls for “recruiting and
training more skilled ... security personnel to protect our critical infrastructures.”30
Significant increases in the number of airport screeners and nuclear plant guards
since 9/11 appear to be based, at least in part, on similar thinking.31
While in many cases it may be true that increasing guard numbers can make a
facility more secure, in other cases the relationship between guard deployment and
facility security may be less clear. In guarding, quantity does not necessarily ensure
quality. Analysts have suggested several reasons why increasing the number of
guards at a given facility might not make it more secure, or might even make it less
!Guards can only meet “guardable” threats, such as physical intrusion
or surveillance by potential terrorists. Any number of guards could
not be expected to prevent attack by a commandeered airliner, or a
remote cyber-attack on facility safety systems.
!If the nature of a terrorist attack is potentially “guardable,” but
guards are not trained to recognize it, additional guards may be no
more likely to respond to it effectively than fewer guards.32
29 Sen. John Edwards. “Agenda For Homeland Security.” Speech at the Brookings
Leadership Forum. Brookings Institution. Washington DC. Dec. 18, 2002.
30 Office of the President. Feb. 2003. p. 28.
31 Hiring of additional airport screeners was also driven by a desire to avoid excessive
traveler screening delays while meeting tighter airport security requirements.
32 Seifman, David. “Insecurity Guard Rips Training.” New York Post. Oct. 27, 2004. p. 20.
!If an increase in the number of guards at a facility is accomplished
by making the existing force work more hours, the guards may
become fatigued, disgruntled, and, consequently, less effective.33
!Increasing the size of a guard force may lead to confusion about
individual responsibility and reporting relationships, which may
reduce guard effectiveness.34
!Expanding a guard force may increase opportunities for hostile
“insiders” to infiltrate that force.35 Having a larger guard force,
however, might make it more difficult for such an insider to
successfully conduct hostile activities.
Debate about the relationship between guard numbers and security suggests that
enhancing critical facility security may not be as simple as posting more guards. As
a practical matter, the effectiveness of guards in countering a terrorist attack also
depends on the specific types of threats the guards may face, the training they receive,
their organization, the conditions of their employment, and background checks.
When these factors are taken into account at a given facility, analysts may conclude
that increasing the size of its guard force may not significantly increase its security
against terrorism, or that the facility operators might realize greater security benefits
from additional training, better organization, or security technology investments.
Pay for Critical Guards
Policy analysts often assert that security guard employment pays too little and
offers too few benefits to sustain a well-qualified pool of workers.36 Pay advocates
claim that the U.S. guard force could attract “better” workers, and consequently,
could be more effective, if guards were better compensated. These claims have been
directed especially at critical infrastructure guards. In its 2000 report on airport
security, for example, the GAO linked “long-standing” problems with airport
screener performance to “personnel factors” including low pay and associated high
33 Bunn, Matthew. “Thinking about How Many Guards Will Do the Job.” Risk Analysis.
Vol. 24. No. 4. 2004. p. 949. See also, Horwitz, Sari. “Police Show Strain From Endless
Alerts.” Washington Post. Oct. 18, 2004. p. A1. This article reports similar problems among
34 Sagan, Scott D. “The Problem of Redundancy Problem: Why More Nuclear Security
Forces May Produce Less Nuclear Security.” Risk Analysis. Vol. 24. No. 4. 2004. p. 939.
35 Sagan. 2004. p. 938.
36 Hon. Howard Coble. House Judiciary Committee; Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism,
and Homeland Security. Hearing on the Private Security Officer Employment Authorization
Act of 2003 (S. 1743). March 30, 2004. p. 1. See also, Service Employees International
Union (SEIU). “Building a Security Workforce for theNew Security Environment.”
Washington, DC. 2002. p. 3. This report that low pay for guards led to high turnover. SEIU
found that 35% of security guards had been working as guards for less than one year.
turnover.37 The subsequent federalization of the nation’s airport screeners included
a pay increase of more than 100% from near minimum wages of $12,000 per year in
2000. These pay increases appear to have improved both employee quality and
retention. Some policy analysts suggest that a similar reconsideration of guard pay
might be warranted for other critical infrastructure guards.
Guard Salaries and Qualifications. Analysis of the available data
demonstrates that security guards are relatively low paid workers. According to
Figure 2, contract guard salaries averaged $19,400 per year in 2003, less than half
of the average salary for police and well below the average U.S. salary for all
occupations. Staff guards earned nearly 25% more than contract guards in 2003. Pay
for both government and contract airport screeners in 2003 is estimated to have
averaged over $28,700, nearly 50% higher than contract guards but still $16,000 less
than police officers. There is no publicly available report on average pay for all
nuclear plant guards, although one study in 2002 found that salaries among five
specific nuclear plants started at $19,364 to $32,117, and ranged up to $40,393 after
three years of employment.38 Contract security guards who work full time often also
receive benefits such as health insurance, paid leave, and retirement plans.
Low pay for guard employment reflects the minimal qualifications required by
guard employers. According to the BLS, many contract guard companies have no
specific educational requirements, although they prefer high school graduation or
equivalent certification for armed employees. Armed guards must be licensed by
appropriate government authorities and may receive special police certification
allowing them to make some types of arrests.
Figure 3. Average Annual Salaries for U.S. Occupations, 2003
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). May 2003 National Occupational Employment and Wage
Estimates. “All Occupations” and “Protective Service Occupations.” 2004; Screener data from
37 General Accounting Office (GAO). Aviation Security. GAO/RCED-00-75. June 2000.
38 Project on Government Oversight (POGO). Nuclear Power Plant Security: Voices from
Inside the Fences. Washington, DC. Sept. 12, 2002. Appendix X.
Magaw, John., Under Sec. of Transportation for Security. Statement before the House Appropriations
Committee, Transportation Subcommittee. June 20, 2002. Note: 2002 screener pay is adjusted by
4.1% federal pay increase for 2003.
Higher Pay for Critical Infrastructure Guards? Airports and nuclear
plants are nationally critical facilities, and are perceived to be at greater risk for
terrorist attack than many other facilities. Consequently, airport and nuclear plants
are deemed to require guards with better qualifications, experience, and counter-
terror training than other guards. Given their presumed experience and skills, airline
screeners and nuclear plant guards are paid more, on average, than other contract or
It is possible that an informed assessment of security needs across all critical
assets would demonstrate a need for more capable guards and associated higher
salaries. In such a case, higher guard salaries would impose added security costs on
the critical asset owners. For purposes of illustration, if 50,000 critical infrastructure
guards had their salaries increased from the average contract guard salary ($19,400)
to the average airport screener salary ($28,732), total annual guard costs would
increase by $466 million. Imposition of such costs on guard employers, especially
private guards contractors, might be met with resistance, however, since the
provision of guard services is a highly cost-competitive business.
The potential for terrorists to infiltrate critical facilities by hiring on as security
guards has long been a concern in specific critical infrastructure sectors. The NRC,
for example, requires exhaustive background checks of nuclear plant guards under
the Atomic Energy Act (P.L. 83-703). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
began requiring “background investigations and criminal history checks” for airport
screeners in 1998.39 Since 9/11 heightened concern about terrorism has prompted
some legislators to call for increased federal background screening of other security
guards to help “determine whether or not employees ... pose a threat to the facilities
and persons they are supposed to protect.”40 Similarly, the Bush Administration’s
National Strategy states that “time-efficient, thorough and periodic background
screening ... is an important tool for protecting against the ‘insider threat.’”41
Congressional interest in federal background checks for security guards stems,
in part, from inconsistent or incomplete screening requirements at the state level.
According to a 2004 survey, 23 states (including the District of Columbia) have
licensing requirements which authorize federal criminal background checks for
contract security guards. An additional 12 states authorize only state criminal checks.
39 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). “FAA Expands Employment Background Checks
to Airport Security Screeners.” Press release. Sept. 25, 1998.
40 Sen. Carl Levin. Remarks introducing the Private Security Officer Employment
Authorization Act of 2003 (S. 769). Congressional Record. April 2, 2003. p. S4707.
41 Office of the President. Feb. 2003. p. 29.
The remaining 16 states had no background check regulations.42 Even in states with
authorizing regulations, however, federal background checks are not necessarily
performed on all prospective guards. Consequently, as one legislator has stated,
background checks of both State and Federal criminal history for private security
guards “are the exception rather than the rule.”43
The Private Security Officer Employment Authorization Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-
458, Sec. 6402) facilitates federal background checks of private security guard
company employees (or job applicants) by authorizing employer access to Federal
Bureau of Investigation (FBI) criminal records. Under P.L. 108-458, FBI
backgrounds checks could presumably be made for both contract and staff security.
The act includes provisions for states that either do or do not have state government
standards for security guard qualification (Sec. 6402d1Dii). Other legislation
proposed In the 108th Congress would have required private security guard
companies to perform federal criminal background checks, and would have
prohibited the hiring of guards who failed such checks (H.R. 4022, Section 5a).
Criminal Backgrounds and Terrorism. From the standpoint of crime
prevention and employee reliability, many analysts have argued that screening guards
specifically for criminal history is only prudent. It might be unwise, for example, to
hire convicted bank robbers to guard banks. Furthermore, Al Qaeda and other terror
groups have been known to recruit disgruntled U.S. citizens, such as alleged “dirty”44
bomber Jose Padilla, from within the U.S. criminal justice system. However, there
is also evidence that sophisticated terror groups deliberately recruit operatives
without criminal histories. The Irish Republican Army (IRA), for example, viewed
new recruits with no criminal records as ideal to undertake missions which would be45
difficult for members known to security authorities. United States officials cite
similar recruiting preferences for terror groups like Al Qaeda.46 It appears, therefore,
that the direct relationship between criminal history and terrorism is debatable.
Background Check Limitations. Both U.S. and international experience
suggest that federal criminal background checks may be valuable for weeding out
some security guard job applicants with terrorist connections. However, the FBI
cannot readily estimate how many prospective guards might fall into this category
42 Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “Report Card on Security Standards.”
Web page. Oct. 12, 2004. [http://www.seiu.org/building/security/statesecuritygrades.cfm].
43 Sen. Carl Levin. April 2, 2003. p. S4707.
44 Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland
Security. Hearing on Recruitment of Terrorists. Oct. 14, 2003.
45 Walker, C. “IRA Recruiting University Students.” The Times. London, England. Oct. 18,
46 Meissner, Doris. Former Commissioner, U. S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
(INS). Statement to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon The United States.
Jan. 26, 2004. [http://www.9-11commission.gov/hearings/hearing7/witness_meissner.htm.
Meissner] noted that the 9/11 hijackers were “clean operatives” without criminal records or
known terrorist ties, specially chosen to avoid detection by U.S. immigration authorities
due to limitations in the federal criminal records database.47 Moreover, federal
background checks may not identify “clean operatives” specifically recruited for their
lack of a criminal or terror record, so such checks may be only partially effective.
Note that background checks for nuclear security guards extend beyond criminal
offenses to “any ... circumstances which tend to show that the individual is not
reliable or trustworthy, or ... may be subject to coercion, influence, or pressures ... to
act contrary to the national interest” (10 CFR 10.2-10.11). Airport screeners likewise
are reportedly subject to “an analysis to determine whether candidates present ... or
may be associated with potential terrorist threats.”48 Even these higher standards,
however, which are comparable to federal security clearance requirements, might not
be effective against carefully selected terrorist operatives. Finally, if background
screening laws apply only to state-licensed contract guards, hostile insiders may still
find infiltration opportunities as unlicenced staff guards.
Federal criminal background checks may also be limited by incomplete state
records. The GAO recently reported that, as of 2001, 11% of state criminal records
had not been automated and made available nationally. The agency further found
that automated information on the disposition of felony and other arrests, as opposed
to convictions, is not always widely available.49 FBI officials have stated that
resource limitations among law enforcement agencies and state identification bureaus
limits their ability to conduct “thorough and timely” background checks for
Given the potential relationship between criminal history and terrorist activity,
federal criminal background checks are viewed by some as potentially important, but
not insurmountable, hurdles to terrorist infiltration of critical facilities. Furthermore,
as stricter criminal screening is imposed on critical infrastructure guards, terrorist
groups may divert recruitment and collaboration away from convicted criminals in
a greater effort to circumvent these screening requirements. Because federal criminal
checks may only be partially effective, policy makers may need to draw on
complementary measures, including guard supervision and access controls, to help
reduce the terror threat should a terrorist insider penetrate a critical guard force.
Counter-terrorism training is an important part of the professional development
of effective critical infrastructure guards. As the National Strategy states, “there is
an urgent need for ongoing training of security personnel to sustain skill levels and
47 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Legislative Affairs. Personal communication. Oct.
48 Strohm, Chris. “House Lawmakers Grill TSA Over Aviation Security.” GOVEXEC.com.
Oct. 28, 2003. [http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/1003/102803c1.htm].
49 General Accounting Office (GAO). National Criminal History Improvement Program.
GAO-04-364. Feb. 27, 2004. p. 11. GAO notes that state record availability is improving.
50 Kirkpatrick, M. Asst. Dir., Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Statement to the House
Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. Hearing
on the Private Security Authorization Act of 2003. Serial No. 89. March 30, 2004. p. 5.
to remain up-to-date on evolving terrorist weapons and tactics.51 Since 9/11, counter-
terrorist training has increased for law enforcement, broadly, and for airport screeners
and nuclear guards. At this time, however, there are no U.S. federal requirements for
training of other security guards. Twenty-two states do require basic training for
licensed contract guards, but not for staff guards. Of the states with training
requirements for security guards, few specifically require counter-terrorism training,
and such training appears cursory.
U.S. and European Guard Training Hours. Hours of training required
is viewed by some as a key measure of guard capability. In states that require it,
basic guard training consists of 1 to 48 hours of classroom or field instruction, in
some cases followed by a qualification exam. Such training is typically limited to
coverage of property rights, emergency procedures, and criminal detention. Training
required in specific states is summarized in Figure 4. Additional weapons training
is required for armed guards.
Figure 4. Hours of Security Guard Training Required by State 2004
Source: Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “Report Card on Security Standards.” Web
page. Oct. 12, 2004. [http://www.seiu.org/building/security/statesecuritygrades.cfm].
For purposes of comparison, Figure 5 provides data showing U.S. guard basic
training requirements with those in the European Union (E.U.). As the figure shows,
training requirements for security guards are also highly variable in the E.U.,
although several E.U. countries require more training than the greatest U.S. state
requirements (Figure 5). Note that Spain, which has a long history of Basque
separatist terrorism, has the highest training requirements in the E.U.. Information
on guard training in other countries is less readily available, although there is at least
51 Office of the President. Feb. 2003. p. 29.
one non-E.U. country (Hungary) that requires even more training for private security
guards — 350 hours.52
Figure 5. Hours of U.S. and E.U. Required Guard Training 2002
260Sp a i n
0-48 (see Fig. 4)USA (states)
0Au s t r i a
0Ita l y
Sources: Weber, T. “A Comparative Overview of Legislation Governing the Private Security Industry
in the European Union.” ECOTEC Research and Consulting. Birmingham, U.K. Nov. 4, 2002.
* In the U.K., mandatory training is planned by 2005 under the 2001 Private Security Industry Act.
Counter-Terrorism Curricula. In the United States, required guard training
traditionally has included basic coverage of: security responsibilities; police powers;
relations with police; inspection and observation; report writing; legal53
responsibilities; liability; ethics; and professionalism. Nuclear power plant guards
are required to receive several months of special training in areas such as firearms,54
first aid, alarms, and electronic security systems. Counter-terrorism makes up a
significant part of nuclear guard training.
Although some states include counter-terrorism in their guard training curricula,
time constraints typically allow them to cover the topic only at the most general level.
For purposes of illustration, Appendix 1 includes the entire “Terrorism” instruction
section from California’s mandatory initial 8-hour guard training manual. The
52 Rt. Hon. Bruce George. UK House of Commons Hansard Debates. March 28, 2001. Pt.
53 State of California, Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). “Power to
Arrest Training Manual.” West Sacramento, CA. Feb. 2002. pp. 2-3.
54 BLS. Occupational Outlook Handbook 2004-05 Edition. “Security Guards and Gaming
Surveillance Officers.” 2004.
section includes two pages of mostly definition. Although California requires an
additional 32 hours of guard training for new guard employees, state law does not
specifically require coverage of terrorism in this training.55 Connecticut’s 2004 guard
training law requires only a brief terrorism discussion — 90 minutes on “public
safety” issues such as bomb threats and terrorist attacks.56
Perceived limitations in state-mandated security guard training have prompted
some policy makers to specifically call for greater counter terrorism training
requirements. For example, the mayor of Los Angeles recently ordered security
guards at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to attend three
antiterrorism seminars taught by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The
seminars include topics such as terrorism awareness, surveillance detection, and
vehicle-borne explosives detection.57 According to the LAPD, this new utility guard
training “is unique because it uses intelligence data on Al Qaeda tactics gleaned from
detained terrorism suspects” and includes the showing of seized videotapes.58
DHS Guard Training. The DHS Information Analysis and Infrastructure
Protection Directorate’s Protective Security Division (PSD) does not currently have
programs that specifically target private security guard companies. However, PSD
has invited private security companies to participate in its Soft Target Awareness and
Buffer Zone Protection training programs. PSD reports that 174 staff from 37
contract guard companies and other institutions took this training as of October,
2004. These training attendees appear to have been primarily guard managers or
guard training supervisors. In the future, PSD plans to make three additional counter-
terrorism training programs available to private security companies:
!Web-Based Workforce Antiterrorism Awareness/Prevention — a 2.5
hour self-paced program
!Surveillance Detection — a three day program including classroom
and hands-on training delivered by mobile training teams
!Physical Security — a program involving both distance learning and
five days of classroom and hands-on training at a DHS Regional59
Field Office, Protective Center or Training Facility
The PSD did not provide projected schedules, budgets, or attendance for these
55 State of California. Business and Professions Code. Section 7583.6.d.
56 Lowe, Zach. “On Guard: New Law Gears to Better Train Security Guards.” Delta Private
Security Newsletter. San Diego, CA. Oct. 15, 2004. p. 1.
57 City News Service. “DWP Security.” Los Angeles, CA. Oct. 13, 2004.
58 McGreevy, Patrick. “DWP to Improve Training for Guards.” Los Angeles Times. Oct. 13,
59 Department of Homeland Security, Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection
Directorate, (IAIP) Protective Security Division (PSD). Washington, DC. Personal
communication. Oct. 28, 2004.
Training Legislation. Some policy makers have called for security guard
terrorism training legislation. In the District of Columbia, the proposed D.C.
Enhanced Professional Security Amendment Act of 2004 would have increased
private guard training requirements, including terrorism training.60 At the federalth
level, the Private Sector Preparedness Act of 2004 in the 108 Congress (H.R. 4830)
would have directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop and conduct
“training programs for security guards to implement emergency preparedness and
response plans and operations procedures” (Sec. 510b8). According to its lead
sponsor, “emergencies” under H.R. 4830 was intended to include “acts of
terrorism.”61 H.R. 4830 would have applied to contract guards, but not staff guards.
Opponents of expanded, government-mandated guard training standards
question the potential effectiveness of such training requirements, especially if they
do not distinguish among different guard assignments.
Job responsibilities, levels of oversight, exposure to the public, and state-granted
powers vary to such a degree that ... no specific minimal training requirements
could meet the needs of some security officer assignments without substantially62
exceeding the level required for others.
These concerns reflect real differences in facility security needs as determined by
vulnerability assessments, threat information, and criticality evaluation. Given the
variability of these factors across many kinds of infrastructure, different facilities may
need security guards in substantially different capacities. Telecommunications
centers, for example, may require guards primarily for access control, whereas sports
stadiums may require guards for screening and crowd monitoring. Certain electric
power facilities may require no guards at all, relying instead on remote surveillance
and other means of physical protection. Because of these differences in facility
guarding needs, some analysts argue that training policies for security guards may
best be evaluated on a sector-by-sector, or even facility-by-facility, basis.
Opponents of federal training regulation may, instead, wish to rely on private
companies voluntarily providing such training to their workers. There is little public
information, however, on how many guard employers have been doing so. A 2002
survey of security guards in California found that, since 9/11, 60% of guard
employers had issued new “procedures,” 52% had conducted some kind of
emergency drill, and 33% had conducted a bomb-threat drill.63 A 2004 survey of 125
facilities storing hazardous chemicals found that, in the prior 12 months, 68% had
provided emergency response training, 59% had conducted emergency response
60 PR Newswire. “Security Officers Announce Support for D.C. Bill to Raise Industry
Standards.” Oct. 6, 2004.
61 Hon. Jim Turner, Ranking Member. House Select Committee on Homeland Security.
“Democrats Introduce Private Sector Preparedness Act.” Press release. July 14, 2004.
62 Fois, Andrew. Asst. Attorney General, Dept. of Justice. Comments to the House Judiciary
Committee on H.R. 2092 found in H.Rept. 104-827, Part 1. Sept. 24, 1996.
63 Said, Carolyn. “Security Lapse: Private Guards Get Little Training and Low Pay, Study
Says.” San Francisco Chronicle. June 11, 2002.
drills, and 38% had improved training and procedures “to prevent possible terrorist
attacks.”64 Securitas, the largest U.S. guard contractor provides “specialized training
for ... guards for high-rise buildings, nuclear power plants and other so called
high-risk objects.”65 Other major contractors do not publicly report changes to their
employee training, although such training is increasingly available from a number of
security firms and other institutions.66
Counter-Terror Training for Critical Guards. Given the importance of
critical infrastructure protection in the nation’s homeland security strategy, some
analysts have suggested that critical infrastructure guards, specifically, should be
encouraged by federal agencies to receive additional counter-terrorism training. The
National Strategy, for example, directed DHS to “initiate a dialogue with state and
local counterparts, private-sector infrastructure owners and operators, and private
security firms concerning the creation of a training and certification regime for67
private security officers.” Likewise, a panel of drinking water experts convened by
the GAO identified “specialized training of utility security staff” as one of the water68
system security enhancements “most deserving of federal support.” Nuclear power
plant guards, for example, are required to receive several months of special training69
in areas such as firearms, first aid, alarms, and electronic security systems.
One barrier to special critical guard training is cost. A 40-hour training course
developed for office building security guards in Manhattan, for example, was70
projected to cost approximately $20 per hour, or $800 per guard. If such training
were required for 50,000 critical infrastructure guards, total costs would be $40
million. Assuming the same average hourly cost, training 50,000 guards to the 260-
hour Spanish standard would cost $260 million. Increased training might also
require higher salaries for critical infrastructure guards, as noted earlier in this report.
DHS Grants for Guard Training. The DHS FY2004 appropriations (P.L.
64 New Perspectives Consulting Group, Inc. PACE International Union Survey: Workplace
Incident Prevention and Response Since 9/11. Durham, NC. Prepared for Paper,
Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union. Oct. 2004. pp. 15, 25.
The survey did not distinguish security guard training from general employee training.
65 Securitas Group. “People Make the Difference.” Company website. Oct. 19, 2004.
[ h t t p : / / www.secur i t a sgr oup. c o m/ www/ secgr oup/ secgr oupwww.nsf / dummyvi ew2/ &l ang= 1] .
66 See, for example, the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute’s three-day course “Terrorism
Preparedness for Business & Industrial Sites.” Information available at
[http://apps.mfri.org/ cgi-bin/semi narflier.cgi?SchedID=2300].
67 Office of the President. Feb. 2003. pp. 29-30.
68 Government Accountability Office (GAO). Drinking Water: Experts’ View on How
Federal Funding Can Best be Spent to Improve Security. GAO-04-1098T. Sept. 30, 2004.
69 BLS. Occupational Outlook Handbook 2004-05 Edition. “Security Guards and Gaming
Surveillance Officers.” 2004.
70 Fredickson, Tom. “Security Guards Face Scrutiny.” Delta Private Security Newsletter.
San Diego, CA. Aug. 28, 2004. p. 1.
administered through the Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP). These grants are
intended to assist state and local law enforcement, fire service, emergency medical
service, emergency managers, and other first responders with terrorism preparedness.
According to the ODP’s program guidance for FY2004, grant funds may be used to
establish counter-terrorism training programs and to cover “overtime and backfill
costs” associated with employee attendance of such programs. ODP’s guidance
specifically includes “private security providers” in the target audience for these
programs.71 Although CRS is not aware of any specific DHS grants awarded for
security guard training, it appears that such training programs may be eligible.
ODP’s guidance for training grants is not expected to change for FY2005.
Government Oversight of Staff Guards. State security guard training and
other licensing requirements generally apply to prospective employees of “private
security companies,” i.e., contract guards, but not to staff guards. Some proposed
guard legislation at the federal level, likewise, has been directed primarily at contract
guards. According to Table 1, however, approximately 489,000, or 48% of all U.S.
guards in 2003 were staff guards and so would not be subject to such oversight.
Many of these staff guards may be subject to screening and training by their
institutional employers, but these requirements would not necessarily be related to
any government-defined standards.
As state and federal legislators consider greater training and other licencing
requirements for contract guards, they may need to address potential disparities
between standards for contract and staff guards. Contract and staff guards may
protect the same types of critical facilities, so it could be argued that they should be
subject to the same screening and capability requirements. This is the case, for
example, in nuclear power plants, where both contract and staff guards are subject
to the same NRC regulations. Contract and TSA airport screeners are likewise
subject to the same background checks and training requirements.
Other Security Guard Issues
In addition to security guard deployment and overall qualification, several other
guard issues have emerged in infrastructure security discussions. Full analysis of
these issues is beyond the scope of this report, but they are mentioned briefly below
for purposes of completeness.
Contract vs. Staff Guard Performance. TSA officials and other policy
makers have begun to consider potential performance differences between contract
guards and staff guards, or between private guards and government guards.72 Such
comparisons are not straightforward, however, and there appears to be little research
available on this specific topic. A recent GAO study of airport screeners found, for
example, that the post-9/11 TSA airport screening program “was not established in
a way to enable an effective evaluation of the differences in the performance of
71 Department of Homeland Security, Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP). FY2004
State Homeland Security Grant Program Guidance. Washington, DC. Nov. 2003. p. 31.
72 Government guards include TSA airport screeners and other guards employed directly by
government agencies, such as federal staff guards in the GS-0085 “Security Guard” series.
federal and private screening and the reasons for those differences.”73 Additional
information may be needed to shed light on this issue.
Civilian Guards at Military Bases. In the 2003 Defense Authorization Act
(P.L. 107- 314), Congress authorized military bases to hire contract guards in place
of military guards to meet new base security requirements (Sec. 332). Since that
time, contract guards have been hired at numerous U.S. military installations
including Andrews Air Force Base (MD), Fort Hood (TX), and the U.S. Military
Academy (NY). While the hiring of civilian guards to replace soldiers at U.S.
military bases raises some interesting issues related to guard training and cost-
effectiveness, the deployment of such guards may have more to do with overseas
U.S. troop demands than with critical infrastructure security per se.
Nuclear Plant Guard Capabilities. The training and effectiveness of
nuclear guards regulated by the NRC has been questioned in the national media.
Specifically, the press has reported alleged lapses in nuclear guard performance,
questions about NRC security tests, and perceived conflicts of interest in future guard
testing by a security contractor.74 While potentially important, these issues appear
unique to nuclear security and have been addressed in other policy forums.75
Foreign-Owned Guard Contractors. A provision in the Aviation and
Transportation Security Act (P.L. 107-71) allows only U.S. owned and operated
companies to provide contract screeners at U.S. airports, unless TSA cannot identify
U.S. firms with sufficient capability to meet screening needs. This measure was
presumably included in response to perceived inadequacies of airport screening76
contractors, several of which were foreign controlled, after the 9/11 attacks. Some
analysts have criticized the restrictions on foreign ownership since many foreign
security firms are located in countries that are close allies in the war on terrorism and
have extensive international experience in infrastructure security which could be77
valuable in U.S. critical infrastructure protection. (Note that some U.S. critical
infrastructure in the private sector is actually owned and operated by foreign firms;78
a ban on “foreign” contract guards at such facilities might be difficult to implement)
73 General Accounting Office (GAO). AVIATION SECURITY: Private Screening
Contractors Have Little Flexibility to Implement Innovative Approaches. GAO-04-505T.
April 22, 2004. p. 1.
74 Snyder, J. “GAO Questions Nuclear Industry’s Security Efforts.” The Hill. Sept. 15, 2004.
75 See, for example: General Accounting Office (GAO). NUCLEAR REGULATORY
COMMISSION: Oversight of Security at Commercial Nuclear Power Plants Needs to Be
Strengthened. GAO-03-752. Sept. 2003. Also, Wald, Matthew. “Review of Nuclear Plant
Security Is Faulted.” New York Times. Sept. 14, 2004.
76 “...As Move Sparks Hill Debate Over Federalizing Security.” Congress Daily, Aug. 8,
77 Poole, Robert W. Jr. Improving Airport Passenger Screening. Policy Study 298. Reason
Foundation. Reason Public Policy Institute. Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 2002. p. 12.
78 For example, key parts of the U.S. high-voltage electric transmission network are owned
by the foreign companies National Grid (U.K.), Scottish Power (U.K.) and E.On (Germany).
To date, there has been little call for similar restrictions on guard contractors already
serving other U.S. critical infrastructure.79
Counter-Terrorism Support. Some analysts question whether or not critical
infrastructure guards would benefit from more equipment, technology, or other
resources in performing counter-terrorism functions. For example, advanced
communications links directly to DHS information centers and local police could
improve guards’ ability to learn of imminent terrorist threats and could facilitate
incident response. Identification and evaluation of such guard needs is an open issue.
This report addresses critical infrastructure guards as a distinctive group, but
CRS is aware of no federal or state policy that explicitly makes a similar distinction.
On the contrary, federal criminal background legislation and state licensing
regulations appear to apply uniformly to all guards under their jurisdiction, without
consideration of differing guard assignments. As noted in this report, uniform
requirements for all one million U.S. guards may be excessive for some and
insufficient for others. Questions remain, however, about what is the appropriate role
of the federal government with respect to security guards, especially private guards,
protecting critical infrastructure. While there appears to have been relatively little
congressional debate on this subject, it may become increasingly important as
homeland security strategy evolves and the distinctive security requirements of U.S.
critical infrastructure become better understood.
If homeland security policy does evolve towards special treatment of critical
infrastructure guards, responsible agencies may face a challenge in identifying those
guards because of uncertainties in identifying critical assets. In April, 2004, the DHS
Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate (IAIP) reported that
it had compiled the list of 1,700 critical U.S. assets referred to earlier in ths report,
but confusion among private sector and state government partners about what
constituted a critical asset cast doubt on the validity of that list.80 Among electric
utilities, for example, there was some question as to why certain assets were
considered critical by IAIP, since some of those assets were not in use and others did
not support significant electric loads.81 According to press accounts, subsequent
classified briefings with Members of Congress to review lists of critical assets in
their states have continued to raise concerns about IAIP’s critical asset
79 Swedish-based Securitas, for example, provides guards to major U.S. oil refineries.
United Kingdom-based Group 4 Securicor is the parent of Wackenhut, which provides
guards to many U.S. nuclear plants. Wackenhut also provided airport screening services
80 These 1,700 assets, considered to be “nationally” critical by IAIP, were derived from a
database of 33,000 assets considered regionally or locally critical compiled from
submissions by state agencies and other infrastructure security partners.
81 Personal communication with industry official, September 29, 2003.
identification.82 Without clarity about which assets are critical, policies directed at
critical infrastructure guards may be difficult to implement.
Counter-terrorism funding for critical infrastructure guards may also present a
policy challenge because the overwhelming majority of these guards appear to be in
the private sector. The DHS Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection recently
stated that the department “will not provide money to the private sector to remediate
vulnerabilities.”83 But as Table 1 shows, approximately 87% of all U.S. security
guards in 2003 were employed either by a private guard company or directly by a
private institution. As one Member of Congress recently remarked, “private security
workers play a vital role ... protecting critical infrastructure, both public and private,
from threat of terrorism.”84 Even critical government facilities such as national
laboratories, military bases, and courthouses, often rely upon private security guards
for counter-terror protection.
If the private sector could be relied upon to make socially warranted counter-
terrorism investments in guards and training, federal funding for guards might not be
an issue. However, as some analysts have suggested, there are economic reasons why
private companies may not make such investments.
In homeland security, private markets do not automatically produce the best
result. To be sure, private firms have some incentive to avoid the direct financial
losses associated with a terrorist attack on their facilities or operations. In
general, however, that incentive is not compelling enough to encourage the85
appropriate level of security.
It is an open question whether private operators of critical infrastructure have hired,
trained, and otherwise supported security guards to the degree warranted by the social
value of the facilities they protect. At this time, there does not appear to be sufficient
information to make such judgments. Furthermore, the overall balance between
public and private funding of homeland security is an expansive topic beyond the
scope of this report. Nonetheless, as Congress continues its oversight of homeland
security, funding for private guards may emerge as a security consideration where
public benefits and private resources may not align.
82 Starks, T., and Andersen, M.E. “Congress, Industry Both in Dismay Over Homeland
Security’s Performance on Critical Infrastructure.” CQ Homeland Security. July 29, 2004.
83 Liscouski, Robert, Asst. Secretary for Infrastructure Protection, Dept. of Homeland
Security. Remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Homeland Security Business Forum.
Washington, DC. Oct. 26, 2004.
84 Hon. Robert C. Scott. House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism,
and Homeland Security. Hearing on the Private Security Authorization Act of 2003 (S.
85 Orszag, Peter R. “Homeland Security: The Problems with Providing Tax Incentives to
Private Firms.” Testimony before the House Committee on Small Business, Subcommittee
on Rural Enterprise, Agriculture, and Technology. Washington, DC. July 21, 2004.
Appendix 1. California Mandatory Security Guard
Training Materials — Terrorism Section
Source: State of California, Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). “Power to Arrest
Training Manual.” West Sacramento, CA. Feb. 2002. pp. 2-3