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In Light of Inspector General Probe, Virginia Leaders Push for Pause on FBI Relocation

"Investigation follows allegations of impropriety and politicization in GSA’s site selection process"

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From Sen. Mark Warner’s office:

IN LIGHT OF INSPECTOR GENERAL PROBE, VIRGINIA LEADERS PUSH FOR PAUSE ON FBI RELOCATION

~ Investigation follows allegations of impropriety and politicization in GSA’s site selection process ~

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), and Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Jen Kiggans (R-VA), Jennifer McClellan (D-VA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), and Rob Wittman (R-VA) have sent a letter to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget requesting that the FBI headquarters relocation process be paused in order to allow the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to properly investigate the site selection process.

The OIG review comes in response to a November 15 letter penned by the lawmakers, who requested that the Inspector General investigate significant concerns that the GSA site selection process was fouled by political interference and alleged impropriety – a concern echoed by the FBI Director himself.

“It is vital that both GSA and the FBI fully cooperate and provide relevant information to the Inspector General’s review, and that they allow time and space for investigatory efforts to reach a thorough conclusion,” wrote the lawmakers. “We urge the Administration to pause efforts to advance this headquarters process, allowing for transparent and fair review.”

They continued, “For more than a decade there has been a clear and shared understanding of the critical nature of this project. The decision bears significant impact on the law enforcement and national security missions of the FBI – GSA’s client agency on this project. All of the parties involved, including GSA and the FBI, had previously stated publicly the need for a process that was fair, transparent, and determined by the merits of the prospective sites. In light of the objections from the FBI, there is concern that this standard was not met. This process must be paused to allow for a fair and transparent review to address these concerns.”

The effort to relocate the FBI spans years of work and multiple presidential administrations. For months, the lawmakers have been making the case that Virginia is the best home for the FBI in part because of its diverse and developed workforce, proximity to critical national security facilities, and easy access to transit. Last month, after a flawed selection process that included last-minute changes to the selection criteria and allegations of political interference, a political appointee overruled the unanimous recommendation of a three-person panel of career experts and selected Greenbelt, Maryland as the site for the new FBI headquarters.

A copy of the letter is available here and text is below.

Dear Director Young,

We write regarding the site selection process for a new Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) headquarters, led by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). On November 30, GSA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) confirmed that they were initiating an evaluation of the site selection to “assess [GSA]’s process and procedures for the site selection to relocate the FBI Headquarters.” This review follows a November 15 letter[1] that we sent to OIG outlining our significant concerns with the site selection process, including credible allegations of impropriety and politicization. 

The FBI Director, Christopher Wray, has raised strenuous objections to both the process and outcome of the GSA-administered site selection process. These concerns were brought directly and repeatedly to GSA throughout the agencies’ deliberations. As Director Wray noted in a message to FBI personnel on November 9, following GSA’s announced selection, “our concerns about the process remain unresolved.”[2] The nature of these concerns draws into question the integrity of a site selection process that demanded fairness and transparency, and they warrant thorough review. 

It is vital that both GSA and the FBI fully cooperate and provide relevant information to the Inspector General’s review, and that they allow time and space for investigatory efforts to reach a thorough conclusion. We urge the Administration to pause efforts to advance this headquarters process, allowing for transparent and fair review. 

For more than a decade there has been a clear and shared understanding of the critical nature of this project. The decision bears significant impact on the law enforcement and national security missions of the FBI – GSA’s client agency on this project. All of the parties involved, including GSA and the FBI, had previously stated publicly the need for a process that was fair, transparent, and determined by the merits of the prospective sites. In light of the objections from the FBI, there is concern that this standard was not met. This process must be paused to allow for a fair and transparent review to address these concerns. 

Sincerely,

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