Federal officials will review decision over new FBI headquarters plan

WASHINGTON — The General Services Administration’s inspector general will review the agency’s decision to scrap a longtime plan to relocate the FBI’s headquarters to the D.C. suburbs.

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly — one of several legislators who strongly criticized the move — announced the decision Wednesday.

“I am pleased Inspector General [Carol] Ochoa has launched a review of the GSA’s FBI headquarters decision,” said Connolly, a Democrat representing Virginia’s 11th District.

“… The public deserves answers, and I am hopeful the inspector general will get to the bottom of this,” he said Wednesday in a statement.

In a Feb. 28 letter to Ochoa seeking the review, Connolly requested more details about what GSA analyzed in making the decision, including matters regarding long-term costs of the new plan, security, timeliness and the benefits of moving staff. He also asked if “communications from outside sources” were considered.

Last month, the GSA confirmed it would no longer seek a secure, modern campus that consolidates its personnel of about 11,000. Potential sites had included Springfield, Virginia, and Greenbelt and Landover in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

It was an abrupt change to plans going back to the George W. Bush administration. Prior to the about-face, the GSA — which handles federal real estate — had said that renovating or rebuilding on the Hoover site was cost-prohibitive.

The new plan keeps about 8,300 employees in the area — at the bureau’s academy in Quantico, Virginia, and at a new structure on the site of the crumbling J. Edgar Hoover Building. About 2,300 other FBI personnel would be relocated to new facilities in Huntsville, Alabama; Pocatello, Idaho; and Clarksburg, West Virginia.

During a Feb. 15 hearing with members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a GSA official explained that there were insufficient appropriations for the suburb plan, which was billed at about $3.6 billion. The FBI later revised its requirements, lowering the estimated price tag to $3.3 billion — and widening the bureau’s options.

That hearing testimony had left Connolly unconvinced.

“It was deeply troubling that at our [House] Oversight and Government Committee hearing, GSA leaders were unable or unwilling to answer very basic questions about the abrupt change in scope, security requirements and costs of this project,” Connolly said in Wednesday’s statement.

In a statement, GSA spokeswoman Pamela Dixon aid the GSA “welcomes oversight of GSA’s Office of Inspector General and is working with OIG on its review of the joint decision made by GSA and the FBI.”

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Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to WTOP.com when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer.

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