April 30, 2021

Maryland, Virginia Senators Urge President Biden to Resume Selection of a New, Secure and Consolidated FBI Headquarters

“The FBI’s current headquarters facility … has crumbling facades, aging infrastructure, and security limitations that are severely impeding the FBI’s ability to meet its critical law enforcement and national security missions.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (Both D-Md.) and Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (Both D-Va.) are urging President Joe Biden to resume the process of selecting a new home for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that meets the stringent security and logistical needs for our nation’s premier law enforcement agency. In a letter to the president Friday, the lawmakers press for the General Services Administration and FBI to pick up where they left off before the Trump administration upended the national security project. In 2014, after an exhaustive process, GSA narrowed down the list of potential locations to two sites in Prince George’s County, Md., and one site in Springfield, Va.

“For more than a decade, the condition and security of the FBI’s existing headquarters in the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. have been serious concerns of Congress, which has provided authorizations and appropriations for a new consolidated headquarters at one of three previously identified sites. Unfortunately, the previous administration undermined this project, requiring your urgent attention to put it back on track,” the senators wrote.

“We urge you to address the need for a new consolidated FBI headquarters. While we recognize that the previous administration’s actions were a setback for the project, we request that GSA and FBI finalize the plan as soon as possible, focusing the renewed effort on the sites previously identified as the top candidates and making use of the completed Draft Environmental Impact Statement to the fullest extent possible,” they added.

In 2011, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a resolution which provided the GSA with official guidance on the framework for the project. Drafted to reflect the FBI’s needs and priorities, the Senate resolution outlined requirements for proximity to the Metro System and Washington Beltway, minimum acreage for the site, and a financing strategy which directed GSA to enter into a private sector lease with a private firm to build a 2.1 million square foot, secure facility on federally owned land that would be leased to the FBI and ownership of which would revert to the Federal government at the end of the lease at no additional cost. 

The full letter follows and can be found at this link.

 

April 30, 2021

 

Dear President Biden: 

We write today to request that you provide clear direction to the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Justice to move forward expeditiously on the process of constructing a new consolidated headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). For more than a decade, the condition and security of the FBI’s existing headquarters in the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. have been serious concerns of Congress, which has provided authorizations and appropriations for a new consolidated headquarters at one of three previously identified sites. Unfortunately, the previous administration undermined this project, requiring your urgent attention to put it back on track.

Since 2011, Congress has repeatedly called for action to address the FBI’s outdated and inadequate facilities at the J. Edgar Hoover Building, through the approval of GSA resolutions and the inclusion of funding in various appropriations bills. After the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a GSA resolution that set forth guidelines for the site selection process in 2011, GSA issued its Phase I Request for Proposals (RFP) and announced eligible sites for the new headquarters in 2014. In 2015, GSA identified a short list of offerors to proceed to Phase II of the RFP, and the Office of Management and Budget announced that the FBI would reduce its footprint in the Washington, DC region, consolidating both the Hoover Building and multiple leased buildings into one location, and narrowed the list to three sites. In January 2016, GSA issued the Phase II RFP to these qualified offerors.

The Trump Administration’s move in 2017 to cancel the project ignored the intent of Congress and scrapped years’ worth of planning, organizing, and resources devoted to the project. Inquiries by members of the House of Representatives and the Senate into the White House’s role in canceling the project were met with obfuscation by agency officials. In a last-ditch effort to ensure the FBI remained on Pennsylvania Avenue, the former President advocated for funding for renovating the existing FBI headquarters in a COVID-19 relief package, which Congress rejected.

We urge you to address the need for a new consolidated FBI headquarters. While we recognize that the previous administration’s actions were a setback for the project, we request that GSA and FBI finalize the plan as soon as possible, focusing the renewed effort on the sites previously identified as the top candidates and making use of the completed Draft Environmental Impact Statement to the fullest extent possible. Congress has appropriated close to a billion dollars for this endeavor, between direct appropriations and transfer authorities, available until expended, and, according to the enacted FY21 Omnibus Appropriations bill, required GSA to submit a plan to the committees of jurisdiction consistent with a typical prospectus request by March 27, 2021.  As of this date, a plan has not been submitted and although GSA continues to coordinate with FBI, it is unclear when the required report will be submitted to Congress.

The FBI’s current headquarters facility – the J. Edgar Hoover Building – has significantly deteriorated over the past 45 years. The building has crumbling facades, aging infrastructure, and security limitations that are severely impeding the FBI’s ability to meet its critical law enforcement and national security missions.

Further delay on a new FBI headquarters creates added risks, costs, and missed opportunities. Despite the political obstacles of recent years, we hope you will consider our request and provide the direction needed for this crucial project to move forward expeditiously. 

Sincerely,

 

cc:  Acting OMB Director Shalanda D. Young

       FBI Director Christopher A. Wray

       Attorney General Merrick B. Garland

      Acting GSA Administrator Katy Kale

 

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