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Citing Funding Woes, Feds Cancel Plans For New FBI Headquarters

July 11, 2017
In The News

After months of lobbying by Maryland and local officials to be the new consolidated home of the FBI, the federal government is putting the kibosh on the project.

The federal government is canceling the decade-long project.

The General Services Agency said does not have enough money to move forward with the plans. The Obama administration had sought $1.4 billion for the project, but Congress left it underfunded by about $882 million. The Washington Post first reported the news Monday evening

“Moving forward without full funding puts the government at risk for cost escalations” and a reduction in the value of the current property, the GSA said in a statement. “The cancellation of the project does not lessen the need for a new FBI headquarters. GSA and FBI will continue to work together to address the space requirements of the FBI.”

Greenbelt and Landover, both in Prince George's County, were candidates for the new site, as was Springfield, Va.

The hulking J. Edgar Hoover building overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue has long been the government building everyone loves to hate. The FBI has complained that the blocky, concrete building -- named for the agency’s first and longest-serving director -- is obsolete, inefficient and no longer meets the needs of an organization that has grown dramatically in the last 40 years. Those findings were confirmed by a 2011 Government Accountability Office report that agreed the building didn’t meet the agency’s long-term security needs.

The FBI had been pushing to move thousands of employees spread among leased annexes in the region into a secure consolidated headquarters that would fit with an agency whose focus has evolved to intelligence and counterterrorism.

Local and federal officials in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. had been intensely jockeying for the new facility, which would have been a massive economic development project with the potential to bring thousands of jobs, expand the tax base and boost area retail and service industries.

But District of Columbia Councilmember Jack Evans said the proposed plans to relocate the headquarters have been unworkable for years.

“I applaud the fact that somebody pulled the plug,” Evans said in a telephone conversation Monday evening.

Evans said he sees no reason to send the headquarters outside of the city, which has other locations that could work. He says he hopes the government will move quickly to identify a site for the headquarters in the city.

“I see no reason to ship it out to the outer regions,” Evans said of plans to move to Virginia or Maryland. “Nobody wants to go out there” he said of the proposed sites in those states.

Members of the state's congressional delegation who represent Greenbelt and Landover, however, were less than pleased. In a joint statement, Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Rep. Anthony Brown said that canceling the plan puts national security at risk,

“Congress has spoken very clearly on multiple occasions that it intends to fully fund the consolidated FBI project. The State of Maryland and Prince George’s County have invested immense resources and time into this project," the congressmen said. "But for the Administration, after failing to include any funding in the President’s FY18 budget request, to pull the plug on this procurement precipitously before the FY18 Appropriations process is even halfway complete, is a waste of hundreds of millions of federal, state and local taxpayer dollars."

They urged the GSA to select another financing mechanism to see that a new FBI headquarters does get built.

Spokespeople for Gov. Larry Hogan and Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker didn't immediately return requests for comment.