U.S. Courts Design Guide
Courthouse security is the joint responsibility of the judiciary, GSA Federal Protective
Service (FPS), and USMS. Decisions regarding security planning and design are made
by individual agencies and the local Court Security Committee (CSC) or for multi-
tenant buildings the Building Security Committee (BSC).
The CSC in each of the 94 federal court districts is chaired by the appropriate U.S.
District Court (USDC) chief judge and includes representatives of the USMS, GSA,
USDC Clerk's Office, U.S. Attorney, U.S. Bankruptcy Court (USBC), U.S. Court of
Appeals (USCA), and other parties as approved by the CSC. The CSC is responsible
for identifying the court's specific security requirements and developing a security plan
for judicial facilities and operations throughout the district. The CSC also reviews
facility and security system designs and coordinates the various agencies responsible
for the design, construction, and operation of court security systems.
In multi-tenant buildings, these functions are the responsibility of the BSC. The BSC
includes representatives of all tenant agencies and is chaired by the chief district judge
or by the highest ranking official of the agency occupying the most space in the
All security systems and equipment must be consistent with requirements in GSA's
Security Criteria Manual (Class C buildings) and the Department of Justice's (DOJ)
Vulnerability Assessment of Federal Facilities (Level IV buildings). The CSC must be
informed about and have the opportunity to review all security-related design decisions.
GSA/FPS is responsible for the security of all federal buildings, including court
facilities. GSA/FPS provides security for the building perimeter, service access, and
non-court-related agency space. The GSA/FPS or an authorized local government law
enforcement agency responds to calls or duress alarms when the USMS is not on duty
in the building. GSA installs intrusion-detection systems in federal buildings that are
monitored from a remote regional communications center. Building access systems (i.e.,
locks, keys, card readers, and the integrity of door hardware) and parking protection/
lighting are typically the responsibility of the GSA building manager.
The local U.S. Marshal coordinates the Judiciary's security requirements with the GSA
building manager. Where the building is totally or almost exclusively devoted to court
operations, the CSC may request GSA to relinquish some of its building security
functions to the USMS.
While the FPS is responsible for the protection of the courthouse and its contents, the
USMS is responsible to the judiciary for the personal security of judges, court staff,
and the public. This includes the protection of judges, witnesses, jurors, and prisoners.