Public Administration


I will upload relevant reading materials for you and the reference must come from the material. I will upload a case study for you, that is what the memo to do, please see the instruction carefully.

Memo Instructions
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 (FPS), L. Eric Patterson. The memo should be no more than 1,000 words. Should include the following:
An analysis of the issues that should be considered in deciding whether to continue to allow private contractors to provide security at government facilities.
A recommendation about how to staff the security positions within FPS (i.e., with private employees, federal employees, or some mix).
Grounding in and references to concepts from class.
(I will upload the relevant reading for you, it include 4 cases —4 type management method, I will also upload the notes to help you understand the 4 methods)
3 references you must use from the reading.


Decision Memo.

From: Management Consultant on Private Security Contracting.

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

Date: 29 January 2015.

RE: The Need to Replace Most of the Private Guards Guarding Government Buildings with Federal Employees.

            In light of rising threats to government buildings and overreliance on private guards, the Federal Protective Service (FPS) should consider replacing most private guards with federal employees. The level of risk that the federal government is exposing Americans to by leaving their security in the hands of private security companies is simply too high. Government buildings are high-value targets for terrorist groups that use sophisticated methods to plan attacks that can cause massive loss of lives and damage to property, not to mention the economic consequences arising from the disruption of government operations.


            As things stand now, the FPS employs only 1225 persons, yet the agency is responsible for protecting 2360 federal buildings (Kettl, 2011). To plug this gap, the FPS has contracted private security companies, who provide 15000 security guards. It is worrying that the country has entrusted the security of its most high-value targets, including nuclear facilities, to private security companies. To make matters worse, these private guards have been found to fail to do their job well, as demonstrated by a recent investigation by undercover agents of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), who found out that private security guards recorded a two-thirds failure rate in their identification of the fake bombs, guns, and knives the agents tried to smuggle into various federal buildings.

Issues to Be Considered in the Decision to Increase the Number of Federal Employees Providing Security at Government Facilities

Federal employees may be in a better position than private guards to understand what is at stake when protecting sensitive facilities such as manufacturing sites for nuclear weapons. Private security companies are motivated first and foremost by profits, meaning that their level of commitment and efficiency may be vary depending on the financial returns arising from their business investments. On the contrary, federal employees are in a better position to put protect the national interest of the country without any dramatic variations in their level of commitment, which is the job that they are paid to do in the first place.


            A security structure in which majority of participants are federal employees is likely to be beneficial in several ways. One of these benefits is unity of command, whereby one person, in this case the director of the FPS, takes overall responsibility for giving commands to avoid problems that may arise when different people issue different commands.[1] This also explains the important role of a scalar chain, whereby one person who is at the top gives command to people who are at lower levels. These benefits are closely related to the broader issue of centralization of authority. Private guards take orders from heads of private companies, who may have individual interests over and above the overall commercial interests of those private entities. At the same time, federal authorities have a responsibility to ensure that the conduct of private guards resonates with the pursuit of national interest. This situation creates a potentially conflicting chains of command that terrorists may take advantage of when planning attacks on government facilities.

            Nonetheless, contracting private guards from private security companies also has its benefits. The federal system operates as a huge democracy. The presence of private security companies in the entire security infrastructure can act as a reminder of how to streamline bureaucratic processes in order to achieve efficiency. Frederick W. Taylor argues that scientific management is the best way to manage an organization, which, according to him, should essentially operate like a machine.[2] This argument can be used to support the rationale for incorporating both federal employees and private guards into the US security infrastructure. The federal bureaucracy is in itself a machine of sorts, whereby every employee knows which role to play. At the same time, private contracting provides an avenue for the aggressive pursuit of efficiency without depending on the principle of initiative and incentive whatsoever (Taylor, 1912). Gulick (1937) supports this view by stating that whenever subdivision of work is inescapable, coordination becomes mandatory.


            This memo makes the following recommendations:

  1. The number of federal employees working as security guards protecting government buildings should be increased to surpass those of private security guards by a wide margin. In other words, partial federalization of the security guard workforce is required in order to create a situation where private security contractors play a more laid-back role henceforth.
  2. Both private guards and federal employees should be trained on how to respond appropriately to active threats such as people carrying guns and bombs through proper use of the X-ray scanning machines that are ubiquitous in virtually all federal buildings.
  3. The FPS should take immediate action against the private security guards who are found to have violated protocol when dealing with active threats by recommending them for further training by the relevant private security companies or replacing them with federal employees altogether.
  4. The Federal Protective Service should use the classical management theory, a classic example of which is Frederick Taylor’s concept of scientific management. Based on this theory, the agency should engage in division of labor as well as the management processes of planning, directing, organizing, reporting, and coordinating.


Gulick, L. (1937). “Notes on the Theory of Organization.” In From L Gulick & L Urwick (eds.). Papers on the Science of Administration. Pp. 90-97. New York, NY: Institute of Public Administration.

Kettl, D. (2011). “Should Private Contractors Be Guarding Government Buildings?” In D.F. Kettl. The politics of the administrative process. Pp. 56-57. Washington, DC: Cq Press.

Taylor, F. (1912). Scientific Management. Excerpt from: Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, January 25, 1912.

[1] Class Notes Part 1: Historical Context – The Study of Management and Organizations.

[2] Class Notes Part 2: Lecture 2 – The Study of Management.

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