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Virginia lawmakers want investigation after Springfield loses FBI HQ bid

Rebecca Barnabi
FBI HQ
Courtesy of office of Sen. Mark R. Warner.

Concerns have been raised by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations regarding the site selection process for the new FBI headquarters.

Springfield, Virginia competed with Greenbelt, Maryland to obtain the honor of relocating the nation’s FBI headquarters as the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. ages out of use.

However, earlier this month, Greenbelt was chosen after a decades-long discussion.

Members of Virginia’s congressional delegation wrote to the General Services Administration (GSA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) to request an investigation into the concerns.

The letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and Reps. Gerry Connolly, Bobby Scott, Rob Wittman, Don Beyer, Abigail Spanberger, Jennifer Wexton, Jennifer McClellan, Jen Kiggans and Morgan Griffith.

“We write to request an immediate investigation into the serious concerns raised by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Christopher Wray, regarding the site selection process for a new FBI headquarters,” the members wrote. “There is overwhelming evidence suggesting that the General Services Administration (GSA) administered a site selection process fouled by political considerations and alleged impropriety — one that was repeatedly curated to arrive at a predetermined outcome.”

Earlier this year, Warner and Kaine argued that Springfield was ideal to provide efficiency and transportation to FBI’s training site at Quantico in Prince William County, Virginia. Lawmakers agreed that Springfield’s large Black, Hispanic, Asian American and Muslim communities would be an asset to create diversity within the FBI.

“In summary, GSA changed the original site selection criteria — which had been developed by GSA experts, in accordance with the agency’s own best practices for site selection — in a way that favored the Greenbelt site, and did so over the objections of the FBI Director,” the members continued. “Then GSA changed the person tasked with confirming the final site selection from a career official to a political appointee. As identified by the FBI, there existed a potential conflict of interest with that political appointee, tied to the Greenbelt site. The political appointee then overturned the decision of a panel of career officials who unanimously selected Springfield, in part by changing how certain criteria were calculated and how certain factors were considered, contrary to what had been previously outlined to the public and to Congress by GSA. Almost immediately after directing the final site selection to Greenbelt, the political appointee promptly left the federal government, implicating Congress’s ability to engage with this individual in an oversight capacity. In defending the indefensible, GSA has decided to proceed with the selection of Greenbelt over the objections of its client agency, the FBI.”

“These facts, when taken together, paint an ugly picture of a fatally flawed procurement that demands further investigation,” the Members concluded. “We request that your office initiate an immediate investigation into the site selection process for the FBI headquarters.”

Governor and other Virginia leaders: Springfield site meets criteria for new FBI HQ – Augusta Free Press

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.