Team Maryland Champions Its State for the New FBI Headquarters
Both the Maryland and Virginia congressional delegations have meetings with the General Services Administration this week.
On Wednesday, Maryland’s congressional delegation and governor made another push for their state to get the new FBI headquarters, following a meeting with the federal government’s landlord. They also took aim at the selection process criteria.
Two of the three potential options for the location of the new FBI headquarters are in Maryland: Greenbelt and Landover, both in Prince George's County. The process to relocate the headquarters has lasted years, spanning multiple presidential administrations.
“We are certain that bringing the FBI to Maryland is the right choice,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, D, said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, near the General Services Administration headquarters in Washington, D.C. “It’s the right choice in terms of timeline and cost, it's the right choice in terms of transportation, it's the right choice on advancing the FBI’s mission and it's the right choice on equity.”
Moore said they haven’t heard a definitive timeline yet for the final selection of a site. He also called on President Biden to weigh in. Right before the press conference, members of the Maryland delegation met with GSA and FBI officials to share their perspectives on why they think the Maryland locations best meet the site selection criteria, released in September and updated in November. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said they had a “very successful consultation.”
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he’s been involved in this process since 2009 and that officials added a new factor to the selection criteria just last year: proximity to Quantico, Va., which is home to the FBI Academy. “Not only did they adopt it in ‘22, they made it 35%...of the determination,” he said. Hoyer reiterated that the fiscal 2023 omnibus spending bill required GSA officials to meet with both sides to hear their arguments. The FBI headquarters situation held up the final negotiations on that bill.
The Maryland lawmakers would like all the site selection criteria to weigh 20% to better consider equity and cost.
“This was a productive meeting in this sense,” Hoyer said. “GSA assured us and the FBI assured us they would go back to the table based on the information that we had all given them and reassess the correctness of this process”
When asked about this, a GSA spokesperson told Government Executive: “GSA and FBI are committed to fully considering the feedback we receive as we work to ensure a fair and transparent process that results in a site that will best serve the FBI and the American people for generations to come.” The Virginia representatives will have a consultation with GSA and the FBI on Thursday. Following the consultations, the agencies “will deliberately consider the input we received to determine next steps on the site selection process,” the GSA spokesperson said.
The Maryland group also touted the Maryland locations’ proximity to Justice Department headquarters and other “mission critical sites.” The Greenbelt and Landover sites are more cost effective because for the Springfield, Va., location “on the site are GSA warehouses and a classified tenant that would need to be relocated,” which “would add both cost and [a] schedule delay into building the new FBI headquarters,” the Maryland lawmakers, governor and lieutenant governor, wrote in a 10-page letter to GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan on Wednesday. Moreover, “the commitments made to GSA by the state of Maryland––both Governor Moore and the Maryland General Assembly––and Prince George’s County would ensure no cost to the federal government to prepare the site.”
Moore also wrote an opinion article for The Washington Post, published on Tuesday, in which he said: “Both Maryland sites are in Prince George’s, a majority-Black suburban county that has long been overlooked despite sitting just outside our nation’s capital.”
The Virginia delegation held a press conference with the Virginia governor last month to rally for Springfield, Va., to be chosen. Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., are also having a media availability on Thursday afternoon following the Virginia team’s meeting with GSA and FBI officials.
In lengthy responses shared on Wednesday morning, Rachel Cohen, spokeswoman for Warner, refuted the following claims from the Maryland team: Prince George’s County has been overlooked for relocating federal buildings; Prince George’s County is the only location that can meet the equity goals; the Maryland sites are cheaper to develop; the process has been unfair; and the Maryland locations have the best transportation options.
“While Prince George’s does have more federal property and office space, the Springfield site is closest to the FBI’s significant presence at Quantico, including their academy and laboratory, as well as to a range of FBI infrastructure already housed in Virginia,” Cohen stated.
Also, last December “Maryland attempted to use the annual government spending bill to unilaterally force a change to the criteria for site selection, which had been independently developed through a collaborative inter-agency GSA and FBI process, and which were then, in the interest of transparency, briefed to Congress and publicly released online,” she said. “Allowing such last-minute revisions to the criteria would also be inconsistent with the criticisms that were levied by both Democrats and Republicans against President Trump for politicizing the site selection process.”