Tight times require creative approaches to funding new FBI headquarters

Current FBI headquarters in Washington, DC. Current FBI headquarters in Washington, DC. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

The General Services Administration is looking for creative ways to finance the construction of a new FBI headquarters amid lean budgets,  according to a report from Federal Times.

Bob Peck, a former public buildings commissioner at GSA, told Federal Times that GSA was unlikely to sell the building in a traditional sense. Another option, he said, would be to use a special authority granted as part of the 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act allowing GSA to essentially exchange property.

Selling the property probably would yield only $400 million to $600 million -- much less than the agency would need for a renovated or new building, he told Federal Times.

A 2011 Government Accountability Office report said that building a new headquarters to replace the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover building in Northwest Washington would cost about $1.5 billion, and renovating or rebuilding parts of the current headquarters would cost from $850 million to $1.1 billion. The report said a renovation would “not improve the building’s” rentable space and would likely adversely affect the FBI’s operations.

Lawmakers cut GSA’s funding for new construction and renovation projects substantially in recent years, according to the Federal Times.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in December 2011 authorized appropriations for GSA to pursue a new headquarters for the FBI, but the resolution still is waiting to move out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Representatives from Virginia and Maryland have been jockeying for the new building, which analysts say will bring thousands of jobs to the surrounding area. A spokeswoman for Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., who has worked closely on this matter, told Government Executive that the construction of the new FBI building would address major national security, efficiency and federal workforce issues.

“We hope that the House will act in a timely manner before the end of this congressional session so that GSA and the FBI can move forward on this project,” the spokeswoman said.

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