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Secret Service Acting Director Clancy testifies before Congressional committee on White House security upgrades

On Wednesday, Secret Service Acting Director Joseph P. Clancy testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary on a variety of issues and addressed ongoing efforts to improve security measures at the White House complex.

Clancy noted in his prepared statement that while the Secret Service conducts some of the best law enforcement work in the world, recent events involving misconduct and operational breakdowns require immediate action and long-term reform. To address these issues, Clancy outlined his vision for implementing training and security enhancements, increasing staffing levels, and improving communication within the agency.

He said he had implemented a plan, for example, to make it easier for employees to bring concerns to the agency. He has instructed the Secret Service Ombudsman to establish a process to bring issues and questions directly to the agency’s Executive Review Board (ERB) for resolution. “This process preserves the anonymity of employees, ensures concerns are being presented on a timelier basis, and includes a mechanism for communication back to the workforce on the concern and the ERB’s plan for resolving it,” Clancy said in a statement. 

He called an incident on September 19th, 2014, when someone jumped a fence and gained entry into the White House, “simply inexcusable.” Enhancements are occurring to prevent such an incident from happening again, he said, but that “further productive discussion on the subject of the security enhancements should take place in a classified setting.”

“The Secret Service remains the world’s most respected protection agency, and the protection of the President remains paramount,” Clancy later said in a statement. “I assured the Committee, and I want to assure the public, that the past incidents are not treated lightly and will be met with corrective actions and positive change. I look forward to continuing to work with the Department, Congress, and with the Administration to ensure my employees have the necessary skills, training and assets to be successful.”

Clancy also discussed the Secret Service’s role in combating transnational cybercrime and other investigative responsibilities. He highlighted the agency’s role in providing protection for approximately 6,000 travel stops, screening over 980,000 members of the public, arresting 6,700 criminals, and preventing $3.0 billion in financial losses through criminal investigations in 2014. He also discussed the agency’s lead role in investigating the reported data breaches involving Target, Home Depot, P.F. Chang’s, and Michael’s.

In October, Clancy was appointed to serve as Acting Director following the resignation of former director Julia Pierson. Pierson resigned following events involving the fence jumper on September 19. The incident involved a man carrying a knife who scaled the fence on the north side of the White House complex. It was initially reported that the man was physically apprehended after entering the White House North Portico doors. Later reports revealed he was apprehended in the East Room of the White House.


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