ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The General Services Administration announced changes in criteria for choosing a location for a new FBI headquarters on Friday, boosting two potential places in Maryland, which has been competing with Virginia for the bureau’s new home.
The new criteria give more weight to cost and social equity concerns than proximity to the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
Maryland officials, including Gov. Wes Moore, were encouraged that the announcement “corrects the flawed approach released in September that ignored taxpayer costs and the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to equity,” they said in a statement.
“Today’s revised guidelines are a critical step in the right direction,” said Maryland officials, including Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen. “This update is in line with the language we secured in last year’s omnibus funding bill that both delegations supported.”
Maryland officials, including Rep. Steny Hoyer and six other members of the state’s congressional delegation, remain confident that two locations in Maryland, either Greenbelt or Landover in the suburbs of the nation’s capital, “provide the best operational and cost-effective options for the new, consolidated FBI Headquarters,” they said.
“These sites meet and exceed the criteria laid out by GSA,” the officials said. “They are shovel-ready with exceptional access to transportation and will spur greater equity and opportunity, in line with the Biden-Harris Administration’s executive orders. We will continue working with GSA to ensure these factors are taken into consideration.”
Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner expressed concern about the changes in a joint statement of their own.
“The GSA didn’t pluck its initial criteria out of thin air — it spent years talking to experts and carefully deliberating on what is best for the mission of the FBI,” the senators said. “While we are concerned that these changes to the criteria will further delay what has already been a drawn-out, decade-long process to select a new site to replace the dilapidated headquarters downtown, we remain confident that Virginia continues to be a home run in every category, and encourage the GSA to draw this process to a close sooner rather than later.”
The General Services Administration announced it had reduced the significance of the new headquarters being near other FBI facilities to 25% from 35%. It also increased cost and social equity to 20% each.
Nina Albert, the administration’s commissioner of the Public Buildings Service, said consultations with the two state’s delegations “provided valuable feedback, and helped us refine our plan to maximize the value for the FBI and the public.”
“While the core elements of the site selection plan remain the same, we have updated the plan to incorporate new government-wide directives and to increase the consideration of cost to deliver better value for taxpayers,” Albert said in a statement. “We believe these adjustments will support a process that results in a site that best serves the FBI and the public for years to come.”
The General Services Administration said the three sites under review — Greenbelt and Landover in Maryland, and Springfield, Virginia — were selected in 2014 by the administration because they all met the baseline requirements of the FBI, including being able to accommodate the size of a new headquarters facility and meet the federal government’s unique security requirements.
The administration anticipates making a site selection in the coming months, it said in a statement.
Plans to replace the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C., built in 1974, have been under discussion for 15 years. Momentum to pick a new site stalled during Donald Trump’s presidency, when plans to move the headquarters to the suburbs were scrapped in favor of a proposal to rebuild at the existing site.
Roughly 7,500 jobs are tied to the new facility, budget documents estimate.