Bipartisan Report on Secret Service Reveals an Agency in Crisis

Published: Dec 3, 2015

New details on misconduct and security lapses emerge

Today, after a year-long investigation of  the United States Secret Service (USSS), House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), released a bipartisan report detailing the Committee’s findings into the troubled agency. The report highlights serious leadership and staffing concerns, along with new details surrounding employee misconduct and security breach incidents.

Chairman Chaffetz released the following statement regarding the report:

This report reveals that the Secret Service is in crisis. Morale is down, attrition is up, misconduct continues and security breaches persist. Yet its mission inexplicably continues to expand beyond the zero-fail mission to protect the President. We are now three Directors in from the shocking misconduct in Cartagena and the agency is still broken. Strong leadership from the top is required to fix the systemic mismanagement within the agency and to restore it to its former prestige. I thank Ranking Member Cummings for working in a bipartisan fashion during this investigation. We will continue to work together to encourage significant reform throughout the agency.”

Ranking Member Cummings issued this statement:

“I thank the Chairman for his bipartisan approach to this investigation and for his dedicated efforts to bring significant improvements to the Secret Service.  I care deeply about the safety of the President, his family, and all of the other individuals under Secret Service protection, and I also care deeply about this agency and its dedicated employees, who are among the most elite law enforcement personnel in the world.  This report outlines key recommendations for the Secret Service to continue making significant reforms it began over the last few years.  In addition, this bipartisan report warns that Congress cannot make some of the biggest budget cuts in the history of the Secret Service and expect no repercussions to the agency’s staffing and its critical mission.  Reversing these problematic trends will require bipartisan and creative work by both the agency and Congress to ensure that the Secret Service is the lean, effective, and respected organization we know it must be.”

Background:

The Oversight Committee began investigating USSS in 2014 after a man jumped the White House fence, making it inside the White House before being stopped. Shortly after the incident then-Director Pierson testified before the Committee where she provided inaccurate information to members. She resigned shortly thereafter. In 2015, the Oversight Committee continued its bipartisan investigation which included four hearings, 17 joint letters, three subpoenas, and eight depositions/transcribed interviews.

Click here to view the report

Summary of Report Findings

The Committee investigated four incidents in detail to identify findings and recommendations for this report.

  • November 11, 2011, an individual fired several shots at the White House from a semiautomatic rifle.  (p. 22)
  • April 2012 misconduct in Cartagena, Colombia. (p. 27)
  • September 16, 2014, an armed contract security guard with a violent arrest history rode in an elevator with President Obama and later breached the President’s security formation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. (p. 39)
  • March 4, 2015, two intoxicated senior USSS officials—including a top official on the President’s protective detail—interfered with a crime scene involving a bomb threat just outside the White House grounds. (p. 54)

PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED DETAILS

Cartagena: April 2012

  • Email exchanges between agents show the brazen attitude of those engaged in misconduct. (pg. 30)
  • Sensitive security equipment and documents were left unsecured in agents’ rooms. (pg. 30 – 34)
  • ThenDirector Sullivan provided inaccurate testimony to Congress. (pg. 30 – 34)

CDC incident: September 2014 (pg. 39 – 42)

  • The President’s security was breached at least three times at the CDC.
  • USSS failed to conduct background checks on CDC’s security guards, all of whom were armed. (p. 40)
  • USSS allowed unvetted armed guards near the President.
  • USSS provided incomplete information to Congress.
  • USSS improperly pinned unvetted armed guards.
  • USSS allowed the President to enter an elevator with an unpinned individual.
  • USSS initially blamed the CDC after an insufficient review of the incident.
  • The armed security guard stationed in the elevator had a criminal history with three arrests for misdemeanors, including reckless conduct with a weapon which involved a three-year-old. (pg. 43 – 44)

Three Directors in a row have provided inaccurate information to Congress

  • Sullivan – after Cartagena said misconduct was not a cultural problem; that agents involved had not been involved in previous similar misconduct; and that there were no sensitive documents/equipment in hotel rooms. (pg. 30 – 34)
  • Pierson – said she updated the President 100% of time. (pg. 49)
  • Clancy – re: CDC incident, said there were no other armed guards near President and sent letter to OGR saying that USSS first learned guard was armed after interviewing him, but CDC actually informed USSS that guards would be armed 4 days prior to visit (pg. 43 – 44)

REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS:

Staffing

  • Congress should ensure that USSS has sufficient funds to restore staffing to required levels, and USSS should ensure that it has systems in place to achieve these goals. (p. 122)

Security Clearances

  • USSS must adequately staff the Security Clearance Division. (p. 157)
  • USSS should allow at least as much time as the 114-day ODNI timeline for issuing security clearances. (p. 162)
  • USSS should not present applicants to the hiring panel until FBI background checks have been completed. (p. 168)
  • USSS’s Security Clearance Division should participate in all hiring decisions to ensure the importance of national security.  (p. 169)

Reconsideration of Mission

  • The Executive Branch should conduct an interagency review on USSS’s collateral or non-essential missions that can be shed, and submit a report to Congress on its findings. (p. 194)

Related Documents

Name Document
United States Secret Service: An Agency in Crisis Document