Contact Us

Congress Presses FBI On Office Space Use As New HQ Plan Advances

In the wake of the pandemic, the federal government has ratcheted up assessing its entire office portfolio, some 363M SF owned and leased by the General Services Administration alone. 

But it was the FBI's 12M SF that came under scrutiny on Capitol Hill Wednesday as the bureau undergoes considerable shifts in where and how it uses space.

GSA Public Buildings Commissioner Elliot Doomes and FBI Assistant Director of Finance and Facilities Nicholas Dimos at an April 10 congressional hearing.

Not only are there plans to move the FBI headquarters from downtown D.C. to a new development in Greenbelt, Maryland, but the agency also has six lease prospectuses across the country due for congressional review.

The GSA, the government's real estate arm leading the FBI headquarters relocation, submitted a report March 28 detailing its plans for acquiring the site, designing the project and building it. The House and Senate must approve the report. 

Amid these requests to Congress, lawmakers are seeking information about the agency’s footprint and its plans for leased space, and they continue to press for answers and documents on how the new headquarters site was selected. 

Members of the subcommittee that oversees the GSA questioned Public Buildings Commissioner Elliot Doomes and FBI Assistant Director of Finance and Facilities Nicholas Dimos at the hearing. 

“The bottom line is that the FBI footprint is massive and costly,” Rep. Scott Perry, a Republican from Pennsylvania who chairs the subcommittee, said in his opening remarks. “It’s critical that we ensure the FBI footprint is rightsized and that we understand how each proposal for space fits into an overall strategy.” 

In response, Doomes and Dimos testified about how the agency has sought to reduce its footprint in recent years.

“The FBI team and I are committed to being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Dimos said.  

Over the last five years, the agency has consolidated 10 leases in the D.C. region, totaling almost $24M in annual rent savings, he said. Over the last 12 years, the agency has closed 24 satellite offices and is in the process of transitioning evidence storage from “costly leased space across the country” to a facility in Georgia. 

Dimos also testified about an agency plan to consolidate offices in Knoxville and Memphis, Tennessee, into one Nashville footprint. 

In addition to the FBI headquarters, the bureau has six prospectuses pending congressional approval, a GSA spokesperson told Bisnow. Those are in Cleveland, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Oakland, St. Louis and D.C.

The prospectuses are for large footprints, including 214K SF in D.C., 172K SF in Charlotte and 107K SF in St. Louis. The D.C. prospectus is for an office at 1025 F St. NW, with a lease expiring in November 2025. 

Meanwhile, members are still looking for the GSA to hand over all of the documents requested on the site selection process for the Greenbelt headquarters proposal.

The FBI's J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue

In response to a question from Rep. Sam Graves, a Republican from Louisiana, on the status of the document handover, Doomes said the GSA has provided more than 6,100 documents on a rolling basis. 

“I do not believe that we have fulfilled all of the requests that we have received in December, but we are committed to cooperating with this committee and continuing to provide you with documents on a rolling basis,” he said. 

Perry pushed back in the next round of questioning, asking if two weeks would be enough time to get the documents handed over. 

“We've got to get something accomplished here,” he said.

The GSA selected the 61 acres of Metro-adjacent, WMATA-owned land for the FBI headquarters in September and announced the decision in November. The requirement was for the GSA to submit a request to Congress within 180 days of the selection, and it did so on the final day of the window with its March 28 report. 

The report says the new headquarters would consolidate personnel from the J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue and eight regional FBI offices, although that number is subject to change based on the bureau's requirements. 

“I’m interested in receiving more information on GSA’s procurement strategy and funding needs, particularly how GSA is going to provide the FBI with a secure, modern facility that it needs while also ensuring efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” said Rep. Dina Titus, a Democrat from Nevada. 

The report from the GSA says it plans to build up to 2.1M SF for the new headquarters, but Dimos said that could change based on the agency’s updated assessment of its needs. 

“There is still a whole lot of additional work that I need to be doing on my end within the FBI before I can give you and the committee a final answer on what we think our square footage requirement is,” he said. 

The report says the GSA already has $845M for the project, which will support site acquisition, design, management, oversight and support activities. Of that, $25M will be needed to acquire the site. 

To fund the rest of the development, the GSA proposes relying on $3.5B distributed over 15 years from the Federal Capital Revolving Fund. That fund, which the GSA is requesting $10B in seed funding for through the fiscal year 2025 budget, hasn't been created.

“That fund doesn’t exist,” Titus said. “Several presidents have tried to get this on, and they haven’t been able to. So do you have some secret that this is going to be constituted or do you have some alternate plan for if it doesn’t happen?” 

Doomes said the GSA believes the fund is the best mechanism to support the new headquarters, but the agency would be willing to work with the committee or others to examine alternative solutions.