For Immediate Release
March 15, 2016
Contact: Keenan Austin
Grosso Introduces Legislation to Ensure Public Access to Government Buildings
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced the "Ensuring Public Access to Government Buildings Amendment Act of 2016." The bill directs the Department of General Services ("DGS") to establish regulations that outline how policies are made for access to government buildings. Currently, for most buildings, DGS follows federal guidelines set by the Interagency Security Committee for entry protocols. Grosso's legislation mandates that the agency look at best practices in other local and state jurisdictions to ensure that residents who must enter government buildings to conduct routine business have the fullest access possible.
"Over the years, we have seen increases in policies that limit access to government buildings in the name of security, without any actual evidence for such policies," said Grosso. "This security theater greatly frustrates me, and it has a disproportionate effect on some of our most vulnerable residents including those who are homeless or undocumented immigrants. If a person who is homeless and has lost all their belongings has to get a replacement birth certificate from the D.C. Department of Health, they have to show identification to get into the building even when the reason for their visit to the building is to get identification documents."
The legislation also clarifies the policy for entrance to the John A. Wilson Building, the seat of the D.C. Council and the Mayor, where residents currently must show a photo I.D. or sign a log book to enter. The bill prohibits those practices that limit access to the building, while allowing for other security measures such as metal detectors.