GSA postpones FBI HQ announcement until funding is secure

The General Services Administration wants Congress to secure funding for the billion-dollar project before it takes any more steps toward a new FBI headquarters...

What was supposed to be good news for Maryland or Virginia turned into disappointment, after the General Services Administration announced it was putting a hold on finding the FBI a new home.

The General Services Administration in a statement said it would need congressional funding in order to make an announcement on where it’s chosen to build the new headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and move forward with the more than $1 billion project.

The location’s announcement was originally set for December but was pushed back to March.

“GSA and FBI have worked diligently since the Fall issuance of the revised schedule,” a GSA spokeswoman said. “We have met the milestones at this point. Appropriations are necessary in order for us to make an announcement and move forward with the next critical steps under the [National Environmental Policy Act] NEPA process and ultimately make an award.”

In 2014, the FBI and GSA narrowed its choices to three locations: the Greenbelt Metro and Landover in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and the GSA Franconia Warehouse Complex in Springfield, Virginia.

Members of the Maryland congressional delegation said in a statement they were disappointed that the announcement didn’t include a site designation.

“We recognize the urgent need to select a site, and are concerned that the continued delays will have a negative impact on the safety and security of our nation,”  said the delegation, which includes Democrat Sens.  Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, and Democrat Reps. Steny Hoyer and Anthony Brown. “Prince George’s County is the best choice for the FBI, and we call on Congress to fully fund the FBI relocation project, which is not only important for the economic development of Prince George’s County, but for the state of Maryland, and our nation as a whole.”

In an email to congressional offices, which was obtained by Federal News Radio, GSA said it appreciated “the efforts of the Offerors as we work to procure a new HQ for the FBI and appreciate interest in this project.”

The Washington Business Journal first reported this story in October, when GSA said it would make an announcement in March on which location it chose for the new headquarters.

“GSA and FBI are encouraged by the proposals received and are confident that, if Congress provides the resources requested in the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget, we will be able to deliver on our commitment to provide a world-class facility for the FBI and a good deal for the taxpayer,” said Renee Kelly, GSA spokeswoman in a statement at the time.

GSA and the FBI would pay for the headquarters project from two different sources: appropriations and the exchange of its current headquarters, the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in downtown Washington. President Barack Obama requested $1.4 billion in his 2017 budget proposal for the project, which the FBI and GSA would split.

The agencies secured an additional $390 million for the project under the fiscal 2016 omnibus spending bill. GSA received most of the money, which it is using for planning and designing of the new building.

Congress was under the impression that GSA planned to use the proceeds from selling the current FBI building to fund the bulk of the consolidation project, and that it ultimately had little authority to get involved since it asked for a small amount in appropriated funding.

Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney said President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 “budget blueprint” includes $603 billion for Defense spending  — a $54 billion increase — and $462 billion in non-defense discretionary spending.

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