In abrupt shift, federal government proposes keeping FBI in downtown DC

The FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., as seen through a wide-angle lens.


By JONATHAN O'CONNELL | The Washington Post | Published: February 12, 2018

WASHINGTON — After more than a decade of pressing Congress for funding to build a new campus in the Washington suburbs, the FBI is now facing the prospect of remaining exactly where it is — on Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington.

On Monday, the Trump administration proposed building a new FBI headquarters in place of the existing one, by tearing down the J. Edgar Hoover Building and replacing it with a new one. The proposal is a dramatic about-face from the stance the government took under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

For years the General Services Administration, which oversees federal real estate, had insisted to lawmakers and the public that the FBI required a suburban campus where it could consolidate 11,000 FBI personnel in a modern and secure facility.

The GSA spent several years, thousands of hours of staff time and millions of dollars securing approvals for sites in Greenbelt and Landover, in the Maryland suburbs, and in Springfield, Virginia.

Instead, in a report to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, the agency said that after examining "several acquisition strategies" it and the FBI recommended a new facility at 935 Pennsylvania Ave. NW and that the administration planned to seek appropriations for the project. The GSA has not released the underlying report.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., called the decision "inconceivable."

"This sudden and unexpected decision by the Trump Administration raises serious questions about what or who could have motivated such a decision. Why the Trump Administration would so suddenly forgo years of study that led to careful recommendations — not to mention the millions of dollars spent in the effort to move the Bureau's headquarters — is beyond astounding, and quite frankly, extremely alarming," he said in a statement. He called for Congress to reject the plan.

An FBI spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

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