Decision Memo


Your assignment is to write a decision memo based on the case study “Should Private Contractors Be Guarding Government Buildings?”. You should assume the role of management consultant to the Director of the Federal Protective Service (FRS), L. Eric Patterson. It should include the following:
1. An analysis of the issues that should be considered in deciding whether to continue to allow private contractors to provide security at government facilities.
2. A recommendation about how to staff the security positions within FPS (i.e., with private employees, federal employees, or some mix).
3. Grounding in and references to concepts from class.
PS: all references should be from uploading reading and PowerPoint


To: Patterson, Eric L. Director of the Federal Protective Service (FPS)


Subject: Improving the Federal Protective Service (FPS) Security with private contractors – Options, Analysis & Recommendations


Executive Summary

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found fault with the Federal Protective Service (FPS). GAO recently reported 13,500 contract security guards utilized by FPS were not adequately trained.[1] In undercover operations, two-thirds of the time security guards failed to detect threats.


Attacks on government buildings are concerning. This not only shows how vulnerable government facilities could be, but also how using private contractors and strong techniques play an important role in such failure. This memorandum aims to address the problem, binding constraint and solutions for FPS to improve its partnership with the private contractors to avoid another attack or to be more efficient in managing one when it comes.


According to the most recent GAO reports, two-thirds of failure rates could be attributed to two main issues:

  • Lack of adequate and professional training, especially in areas of active shooting and individuals screening when entering federal building. Without ensuring that all guards receive this training, FPS has limited assurance that its guards are prepared for such a threat.
  • Failure to reinforce security protocol. In the test, the security guard caught an undercover inspector from the GAO, but fail to proceed with further search, as the rules required.[2]

Furthermore, the strong reliance on private guards made many members of the Congress became uneasy. The use of private contractorshas an astounding ratio of 12:1 of private security guard to each federal employee. But we can’t deny that there are both benefits and cost associated with using them.

This type of organization structure are complex and so will lead to more management issues, among them: (1) conflict of interest – private security guards interest is likely tied to the some sort of rewards (i.e. financial), while federal agents interest is to protect each and every public goods of the nations. (2) Divided commands – private security guards follows the private companies leaders command, which in many time it could be different from the one given by the FPS directors, resulting to lack of unity.

Nonetheless, there are also benefits associated with it: (1) contracting private security guards is far cheaper than hiring federal employees (2) many of the risks (i.e. financial) could be shifted to the private companies.


After considering the current situation, to improve the FPS’s partnership with private security firms just providing adequate training to private contractors security officers, setting a security protocol for emergency situations or even replacing more private security officers with federal employees is not enough. The binding constraint comes the management context and strategy used.

First, scientific management or Taylorism[3]– which attempts to apply science to the management to improve economic efficiency, especially labor productivity[4]. The idea here is that workers are given as much autonomy as practically possible, so that they can use the most appropriate approaches for the situation at hand (opposition to teamwork). This is not enough for governmental organization; a much more modern management style has to be incorporated.

Theory Y[5] put more emphasis on workplace motivation, this in fact would encourage more participation and cooperation between the private guards and federal employees.  In this theory, management assumes employees can be ambitious, self-motivated and exercise self-control. It is believed that employees enjoy their mental and physical work duties. Giving proper conditions, employees will learn to seek out and accept responsibility, exercise self-control and self-direction in accomplishing objectives to which they are committed.[6] FPS should not put all responsibility on private security guards, we should aim for participation of all and avoid unity of command.7


  • Putting Federal employees into higher positions. This not only will bring the ratio closer to 1:1, it will also have some trained employees to guide the others untrained/inexperienced private security guard. Leading to scalar chain – line of authority from superior to subordinate.[7]
  • Open table for discussion for all employees. For management to become more cooperative with Labor, there is need to hear from the each employees, their needs and suggestions.

Second, the failure rate shows how inefficient public-private partnerships are. Missing the fake guns and other weapons or when caught, no further searches were performed. Improving efficiency is one of the problems that must be addressed. The main problem lies on the lack on incentive for private guards to work on the interest of the public.[8] For example, we could have federal employees who have being trained to lead other private security guards; this is fact, allows centralization of authority to be exerted at certain degree.

Lastly, during emergencies micromanagement should be used to minimize loses. Lack of enforcement of protocol during emergencies usually results to further issues. For example, terrorist who got caught and no further searches were performed could return for the second attack. Or when the attack actually happens, what are the steps that all security should follow?  Micromanagement[9] should come into play in this situation – having managers closely observe or controls the work of subordinates or employees.

[1] Davidson, Joe. “Federal Protective Service criticized again over guard training”. The Washington Post. Oct. 30, 2013. <>

[2] “Should Private Contractors Be Guarding Government Buildings?” The Politics of the Administrative Process.

[3] Classical Management Theory. “Class Slide: The Study of Management”

[4]Frederick Taylor and Scientific Management” Mind Tools.

<> 02/03/2015

[5] Classical Management Theory. “Class Slide: The Study of Management”

[6] “Theory X and Theory Y”.  Business Dictionary.

<> 02/03/2015

[7] Classical Management Theory. “Class Slide: The Study of Management”

[8] Subordination of individual interest of general interest. “Class Slide: The Study of Management”

[9]Classical Management Theory. “Class Slide: The Study of Management”

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