Investigation launched into site selection process for new FBI headquarters

By: - November 30, 2023 9:04 pm

The FBI headquarters building in downtown Washington, D.C., on Nov. 23, 2023. (Jane Norman/States Newsroom)

WASHINGTON — The watchdog for the General Services Administration will investigate the process that led the federal agency to choose a Maryland site over two others for the new FBI headquarters.

Acting Inspector General Robert Erickson wrote in a letter released Thursday that the “objective will be to assess the agency’s process and procedures for the site selection to relocate the FBI Headquarters.”

“We intend to begin this work immediately and will share with you and the relevant committees a copy of any report which may result from this evaluation,” Erickson wrote in the letter to Virginia Sen. Mark Warner.

Eleven members of Virginia’s congressional delegation cheered the decision in a joint statement and called for the GSA to “pause all activities related to the relocation until the IG’s investigation is complete.”

“Given the overwhelming evidence suggesting that the General Services Administration (GSA) administered a site selection process fouled by politics, we agree that an inspector general investigation is the appropriate next step,” the Virginia lawmakers wrote.

Warner and Sen. Tim Kaine, both Democrats, as well as Democratic Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly, Jennifer McClellan, Bobby Scott, Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton, and GOP Reps. Morgan Griffith, Jen Kiggans and Rob Wittman signed onto the statement.

Numerous Maryland lawmakers at the state and national level said in a joint statement that “any objective evaluation will find that the GSA arrived at this decision after a thorough and transparent process.”

“After assessing the facts, the GSA determined that Greenbelt offers the lowest price and best value to taxpayers, the easiest access to public transportation, the most schedule certainty to ensure the FBI can move to a new headquarters that meets its mission and security needs as soon as possible, and the greatest opportunity to advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s equity goals,” they wrote.

“The GSA made its decision accordingly,” they added. “Although some may not like that outcome, the GSA has clearly demonstrated that this process was transparent.”

That group included U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen; U.S. Reps. Steny H. Hoyer, Glenn Ivey, Kweisi Mfume, Jamie Raskin, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes and David Trone; Gov. Wes Moore; Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller; and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.

Maryland-Virginia battle

The site selection process for the new headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose current building in the District of Columbia has been falling into disrepair for years, has lasted for well over a decade. During much of that time Maryland and Virginia lawmakers have sought to get the federal government to pick their state.

The General Services Administration announced Greenbelt, Maryland, as its top choice for the new headquarters in early November, setting off celebrations from elected officials in that state and heated comments from Virginia’s lawmakers.

The GSA had been deciding among Greenbelt, Maryland; Landover, Maryland; and Springfield, Virginia.

FBI Director Christopher Wray criticized the GSA’s decision in a memo to employees, saying he and others had “concerns about the fairness and transparency in the process,” although he also said those “concerns are not with the decision itself but with the process.”

Maryland Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer rejected criticism of the GSA’s decision during an interview in early November.

“The director wants to be in the District of Columbia. He has made it very clear he wants to be in Washington, D.C. He does not want to move. Almost every expert has said that’s not tenable, consistent with the security of the FBI,” Hoyer said. “So, you know, I’m sorry he feels that way. I think he’s absolutely wrong in his representation.”

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Jennifer Shutt
Jennifer Shutt

Jennifer covers the nation’s capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. Her coverage areas include congressional policy, politics and legal challenges with a focus on health care, unemployment, housing and aid to families.

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