Storing almost $194 billion (SD: or more like pretending to still store $194 billion in phyzz as it has likely all been leased to primary dealers, dumped on the market, and the proceeds plowed into treasuries) of gold makes extensive security measures mandatory at the New York Fed. (SD: to keep anyone from discovering the vaults are nearly empty??) An important measure is the background investigation required of all Bank employees. Continuous supervision by the vault control group also prevents problems from arising by ensuring that proper security procedures are followed.
The Bank and its vaults are secured by the Bank’s own uniformed protection force. Twice a year, each federal officer must qualify with a handgun, shotgun and rifle at the Bank’s firing range. Although the minimum requirement is a marksman’s score, most qualify as experts.
Security is also enhanced by a closed-circuit television system and by an electronic surveillance system that alerts Central Watch when a vault door is opened or closed. The alarm system signals the officers to seal all security areas and Bank exits. This can be accomplished in less than twenty-five seconds.
The gold also is secured by the vault’s design, which is a masterpiece of protective engineering. The vault is actually the bottom floor of a three-story bunker of vaults arranged like strongboxes stacked on top of one another. The massive walls surrounding the vault are made of a steel-reinforced structural concrete.
There are no doors into the gold vault. Entry is through a narrow 10-foot passageway cut in a delicately balanced, nine-feet-tall, 90-ton steel cylinder that revolves vertically in a 140-ton, steel-and-concrete frame. The vault is opened and closed by rotating the cylinder 90 degrees. An airtight and watertight seal is achieved by lowering the slightly tapered cylinder three-eighths of an inch into the frame, which is similar to pushing a cork down into a bottle. The cylinder is secured in place when two levers insert large bolts, four recessed in each side of the frame, into the cylinder. By unlocking a series of time and combination locks, Bank personnel can open the vault the next business day. The locks are under “multiple control”—no one individual has all the combinations necessary to open the vault.
The weight of the gold—just over 27 pounds per bar—makes it difficult to lift or carry and obviates the need to search vault employees and visitors before they leave the vault. Nor do they have to be checked for specks of gold. Gold is relatively soft, but not so soft that particles will stick to clothing or shoes, or can be scraped from the bars. The Bank’s security arrangements are so trusted by depositors that few have ever asked to examine their gold.
FRBNY Gold Vault