Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., questioned how GSA planned to fund the $4.3 billion new FBI headquarters through capital revolving fund not yet approved by Congress.

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., questioned how GSA planned to fund the $4.3 billion new FBI headquarters through capital revolving fund not yet approved by Congress. Anadolu / Getty Images

Contentious FBI headquarters plan looms over House hearing on real estate footprint

The House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management sought to examine the FBI’s strategy for managing its overall office space requirements, but the ongoing controversy over its potential new headquarters again took center stage. 

Despite being months removed from the General Services Administration selection to locate the new FBI headquarters in Greenbelt, Md., the quarrel over the decision showed no signs of simmering on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

Members of the House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management — evaluating the bureau’s strategy for managing its overall real estate portfolio — again voiced skepticism over the plans and frustration at GSA’s pace for turning over the documents outlining the decision. 

While there were few new revelations into the November 2023 headquarters site selection, House members took issue with a GSA plan that called for the creation of a $10 billion Federal Capital Revolving Fund in its fiscal 2025 budget request to help finance the new $4.3 billion headquarters and other real estate projects. 

“According to the site selection report that GSA just submitted, $845 million has already been appropriated, and $3.5 billion for this new headquarters was going to be transferred from the proposed Federal Capital Revolving Fund,” said Ranking Member Dina Titus, D-Nevada. “Now that fund doesn’t exist and it hasn’t. Several presidents have tried to get this on and they haven’t been able to. So you have some secret that this is going to be constituted or do you have some alternate plan for if it doesn’t happen?”

Public Building Service Commissioner Elliot Doomes told Titus that GSA is open to discussing funding options, including other normal appropriations requests it has made in its budget plan, but the Biden administration’s preference is to establish the revolving fund that agencies can pay back into. 

“We continue to believe that that is the best way to fund the FBI headquarters, but we remain committed to working with this committee, as well as any other committees, about any other solutions that are on the table,” he said. “But right now, that is the administration’s plan.”

And while the subcommittee has received prospectuses for both the Greenbelt project and lease renewals for some of the 47 field offices leased by the bureau, subcommittee Chairman Scott Perry, R-Pa., expressed consternation with GSA and FBI’s slow disclosure of requested documents and communications outlining the Greenbelt decision process.

“You received the oversight request five months ago and have had enough time to fully respond and comply with the committee’s request,” he said during opening remarks. “We currently have lease prospectuses for FBI field offices pending before the committee. How can we be expected to sincerely and completely evaluate that without all of the information?”

Perry tried to pin Doomes down on GSA’s expected timeline for producing the requested documents, but the latter said that the agency continues to supply them on a rolling basis, committing only to move to provide them “as soon as possible.”

Controversy over the new headquarters project centers on the decision of former Public Buildings Service Commissioner Nina Albert to overrule a site selection panel to pick Greenbelt and her past ties to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which owns the land at the Greenbelt site. Albert left GSA in October 2023 to become deputy mayor for planning and economic development in Washington, D.C.

Nicholas Dimos, assistant director of the FBI’s Finance and Facilities Division, said the bureau’s concerns over Albert’s selection remain, pending the results of an ongoing investigation by the GSA inspector general. 

“They have not changed, and so, we continue to await the findings of GSA’s OIG so we can see their complete review and analysis of the process concerns that we have put forward,” he said. “But, of course, we know separate from those process concerns, the J. Edgar Hoover Building is still failing, and we need a long-term solution for our headquarters facility.”