A review by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has concluded that the Department of Defense (DOD) is unaware of the extent to which physical access control systems (PACS) are used in its facilities because the Army, Navy and Corps de Marines have not monitored their use in more than 100 sites.
In November 2009, an Army officer shot 45 people in Fort Hood, Texas. Four years later, a Navy contractor shot 16 people at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. As a result, DOD increasingly uses PACS to detect people who wish to enter military facilities. The systems scan credentials and compare them with the FBI and other government databases.
The DOD has issued a guide to access its domestic facilities and strengthen PACS. The department has recently issued a guide that directs the placement of PACS and has sent or plans to place such systems in domestic facilities. The Defense Force Data Center (DMDC) developed the PACS used by the Air Force, the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). The army developed its own PACS. Both types of PACS connect electronically to the DOD identity matching engine for security and analysis (IMESA). IMESA accesses authorized government databases to determine a person's access suitability (that is, if a person is a risk to an installation or its occupants), and continually examines this suitability for subsequent visits.
GAO discovered that the Air Force and the DLA have monitored the use of PACS in their facilities, but the Army, Navy and Marine Corps have not. Army, Navy and Marine Corps installation officials told GAO that they do not monitor the use of PACS in their facilities because there is no requirement to do so. However, officials from the Department of Defense, the Army, the Navy and the Marine Corps agreed that the use of PACS in monitoring facilities would be beneficial and could be easily achieved without significant cost using existing technology.
The GAO August 22 report details the phased approach of the Army and the DMDC and notes that they have set up help tables to address PACS technical problems, such as charging and connectivity issues. The Army has also established performance measures and objectives to assess its approach, which has improved the ability to solve technical problems.
The recommendations of the review include monitoring the use of PACS by the facilities and developing appropriate measures and performance objectives to solve technical problems to improve PACS performance.
DOD agreed and stated that it is currently drafting a manual volume that will describe the general requirements for implementing the PACS security program, including monitoring the use of the systems. It is expected to be ready for use in the summer of 2020.
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