It started well before 9/11. It started when a group of tenants staged a sit-in outside of the 10th floor office of the Secretary of HUD, protesting some action that he, or perhaps their landlord, had taken, or perhaps neglected to take. The Secretary felt compelled to escape, and did, down a stair well, as I recall the story, so his staff could tell the protesters that they needed to leave, that the Secretary was not in the building.
This led to security at the doors of HUD for the first time. In order to get into the building, you needed to show an I.D.
After 9/11, things got much worse. Most government buildings instituted some form of security. HUD wanted to stay one step ahead.
So, there were stricter ID checks, there were building passes issued to visitors, there were metal detectors installed, there was the requirement that you needed a picture ID and that the picture ID would remain hostage while you were in the building, there were special procedures for checking laptops to ensure that they were not really suicide bomber bombs, there were passes now restricted to particular floors, there was the need for the downstairs security desk to talk to the person you were coming to see, there was the need to have someone be sent down to meet you at the door and escort you through the lobby to the escalator; no one would be allowed to step into HUD by themselves.
And, recently, just when you thought that it was as bad as it could possibly be, it became even more complicated to get in the building. None of the previous restrictions were relaxed or eliminated, but now a new one was added. In addition to having to leave your picture ID (government ID, driver’s license preferred) at the desk, you have to step in front of a camera, and have your picture taken. and then they print out your pass which has your picture on it, your name in big bold letters, the date of your visit and a statement that the pass is not valid after that date, and the precise room number in which you are allowed to be.
The Secretary of HUD, and all of his worker-bees, are the most secure people in the universe.