GSA confirms it wants FBI to stay in DC

WASHINGTON — The U.S. General Services Administration confirmed Monday that it now prefers a plan to keep the Federal Bureau of Investigation at its current location in the District.

The Washington Business Journal first reported Jan. 29 the FBI was leaning toward keeping the FBI where it’s currently located.

On Monday, the GSA and FBI submitted a report on the FBI’s new headquarters project to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

The report recommends that a new headquarters facility for the FBI be constructed at the FBI’s current location at 935 Pennsylvania Ave. in Northwest.

In order to accommodate new construction, GSA would temporarily relocate FBI operations and personnel, and demolish the existing J. Edgar Hoover building.

The GSA and FBI are also requesting federal appropriations to fund the project.

The Hoover building “has significantly deteriorated over the past 45 years. Crumbling façades, aging infrastructure, physical, structural and security limitations in the degraded facility all are severely impeding the FBI’s ability to meet its critical law enforcement and national security missions,” GSA said.

Last summer, GSA canceled a search for a new FBI headquarters that had narrowed possible locations to a short list including Greenbelt and Landover, in Maryland, and Springfield, Virginia. It had been looking for a location that could support 2 million square feet of space and 11,000 FBI employees.

‘Bizarre,’ ‘careless’

A passel of Maryland lawmakers panned the move.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker said in a statement:

The concept of a consolidated FBI that would house 11,000 employees was well thought out and supported by both the Bush and Obama administrations. Not only have resources and money been wasted, but more importantly, we are no closer to providing the American people the increased security and safety they desperately need from a consolidated and high security campus.

This decision is beyond logic but it is clearly political. The Trump Administration is now proposing to spread FBI offices across the country to states like Alabama, Idaho, and West Virginia – all states that voted for President Trump. Furthermore, the report submitted to Congress today ignores hundreds of millions of dollars in extra costs used to suddenly justify what was once the most expensive option as now the cheapest option.

U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., issued a stern statement as well.

“This sudden and unexpected decision by the Trump Administration raises serious questions about what or who could have motivated such a decision. Why the Trump Administration would so suddenly forgo years of study that led to careful recommendations – not to mention the millions of dollars spent in the effort to move the Bureau’s headquarters – is beyond astounding, and quite frankly, extremely alarming,” Hoyer’s statement said.

“We must get to the bottom of why the Trump Administration reached this decision. I call on Congress to reject this reckless proposal, and look into why the Administration would make such a careless decision.”

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., also piled on the criticism, saying the GSA decision “makes little sense, especially given the clear-cut requirements both the FBI and GSA have laid out for more than a decade for a fully consolidated, secure FBI campus,” Cardin said.

“To put forward a proposal that has a higher cost for less consolidation and is inconsistent with congressional authorization is bizarre – perhaps more bizarre than GSA’s original decision to cancel the previous procurement. It is incomprehensible how the agency came to this decision.”

Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., said in a statement, “The Trump White House is putting America’s national security at risk, and is continuing its thinly-veiled assault on the FBI. This decision falls short of meeting the needs of the nation’s premier intelligence and law enforcement organization. The men and women of the FBI deserve better.”

GSA will seek $2 billion in federal money to construct the new FBI headquarters building on Pennsylvania Avenue.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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