Watchdog Investigates FBI’s Procedure for Choosing Locations

( – In early November, the Government Services Administration (GSA) announced its decision about where it would locate the new FBI headquarters after a protracted 10-year selection process. However, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Virginia Congressional leaders questioned the determination, which ran counter to recommendations made by a joint GSA and FBI panel. On November 30, the Inspector General’s Office (OIG) for the GSA agreed to open a probe into the decision process.

The GSA’s Decision

In 2013, the GSA began the search for a new site for the FBI headquarters from its current location in the Hoover Building after the structure failed to meet security requirements for 50 years. The agency wanted to keep its headquarters in Washington, DC. However, in 2021, Congress made funding conditional on moving the HQ out of the city. Three possible sites vied for the headquarters.

Springfield, Virginia, and Greenbelt, Maryland, became the top two sites under consideration. The joint GSA and FBI panel, consisting of two GSA members and one FBI member, recommended the Springfield site in August. Yet, GSA Commissioner Nina Albert announced her decision for Greenbelt on November 8.

The GSA claimed Greenbelt scored highest in four of the five most important selection criteria, including most transit-accessible, most predictable for construction and timeline, the highest regional impact for the government dollars spent, and the lowest cost to taxpayers overall. The GSA estimated the new HQ would generate 7,500 jobs and add $4 billion to the regional economy. Building in Prince George’s County, with a primarily Black demographic, also helps deliver on a Biden administration promise to invest in communities that historically don’t receive funding.

Critics Confront the Decision

On November 8, Wray questioned the GSA’s “fairness and transparency” in making the decision in a workforce memo he sent to colleagues. The director added that he had concerns about a potential conflict of interest on the GSA commissioner’s part and indicated that the GSA had never addressed those concerns.

Moreover, Albert had previously served as vice president for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the entity that owned the land in Greenbelt slated for the new HQ. Additionally, she had unilaterally changed the selection criteria over Wray’s and career GSA officials’ objections in July. After deciding in late October, Albert left the GSA and accepted a position as DC’s acting deputy mayor for planning and economic development. The GSA announced the determination after her departure.

On November 15, a bipartisan coalition of Virginia lawmakers wrote a letter to the OIG requesting an investigation. Robert Erickson of the OIG replied to Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) on November 30, affirming that the office would begin a probe into the matter.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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