WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee that has jurisdiction for public buildings, today aggressively questioned officials from the General Services Administration (GSA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for their sudden and costly cancellation of the years-long procurement process that would have provided the FBI with a much-needed, fully consolidated and modern headquarters.
“I thank Chairman Barrasso and Ranking Member Carper for holding this hearing in response to my request after GSA announced that they were terminating the prospectus for the consolidation of the FBI.
“This has been a frustrating process – the delay, the mixed messages on financing, and ignoring the actions of this committee and of Congress. As a result, there has been a significant waste of taxpayer money and we have compromised the FBI’s ability to carry out its critical mission. That is plainly unacceptable.
“We need a transparent way forward to deliver a consolidated facility for the FBI quickly. GSA has made it clear that they have the authority to select a site today. Congress can help GSA with this process moving forward. We could have been helpful before GSA chose to terminate the procurement process that was in place. We cannot waste any more taxpayer funds. We’ve already committed $913 million to this project – not including the Hoover Building – so that is more than a $1 billion already available. GSA has committed to returning to the EPW Committee within 120 days with a plan for how to get this process back on track. I strongly encourage them to use much of the work already invested into this project to expedite decisions at every available opportunity.”
The Hoover Building, occupied by the FBI headquarters staff since 1974, is – according to the FBI – obsolete, inefficient and expensive and does not meet the agency’s security or operational needs. The FBI has outgrown it and needs a new headquarters building which can consolidate staff currently spread out in 14 different leased spaces in and near Washington, DC, at a cost of more than $44 million per year in lease payments.
Since 2005, the FBI, GSA and OMB have been discussing and studying a strategy for consolidating the FBI headquarters. Both agencies conducted building surveys, housing strategies, site analyses, project reports and feasibility studies. The agencies examined the various options, such as federal construction of a new building, leasing, modernizing the Hoover Building or exchanging it for a new site and new building built by a private partner.
In 2011, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed a resolution authorizing the GSA to enter into a lease transaction, on federally owned land, for a consolidated FBI headquarters consistent with the survey completed by the FBI. The Senate resolution also required:
- GSA ensure the lease transaction resulted in ownership;
- To the maximum extent practicable, the new headquarters to be located within 2 miles from a Metro rail station and 2.5 miles from the Capital Beltway (I-495);
- The site not exceed 55 acres and provide for Level V Security;
- The building not exceed 2.1 million square feet with an office utilization of not more than 10 square feet per person and an overall utilization of 174 square feet per person
In 2013, GSA issued a Request for Information (RFI) to obtain responses from the development community, along with local and state jurisdictions, on the potential of a consolidated FBI headquarters and announced its intention to swap the current FBI site for the new consolidated headquarters, with the site and developer to be chosen competitively.
In 2015, GSA announced that an even swap of the Hoover Building for a new FBI consolidated headquarter facility would not garner enough money to make the project work. In FY16 Congress appropriated $390 million for the project and both the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committees passed resolutions authorizing the project.
President Obama’s FY17 budget to Congress requested $1.4 billion for the project to complete its funding; Congress appropriated $523 million and committed to funding the rest of the project in the FY18 appropriations process. In the FY18 budget request to Congress President Trump requested no funding for this project.
On July 12, 2017 GSA officials formally notified Congress that they were cancelling the procurement; they cited a lack of funding, rising costs, and the depreciating value of the Hoover building as reasons for the sudden cancellation.