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GSA Inspector General Launches Investigation Of FBI HQ Decision

The FBI's current HQ, the J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The General Services Administration's Inspector General will review the agency's controversial decision to keep the FBI headquarters at the J. Edgar Hoover Building site on Pennsylvania Avenue

The investigation, announced Wednesday by Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Virginia), comes after the agency faced intense scrutiny from Congress over the selection process and a potential White House intervention. 

Senators at a Feb. 28 hearing repeatedly asked GSA and FBI officials whether President Donald Trump, whose company owns a luxury hotel one block from the Hoover Building, had intervened in the decision. The officials declined to answer.

The Feb. 12 decision to keep the FBI on Pennsylvania Avenue angered local officials from Maryland and Virginia, whose jurisdictions had been included among the previous three finalists for the $2B campus, and D.C., which had hoped to activate the prime site with a mix of uses. 

Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, at the Feb. 28 Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing, criticized the agency for changing its project requirements, not communicating clearly and forcing local governments to waste taxpayer money. Connolly, whose Oversight and Government Committee held a separate hearing Feb. 15, also expressed skepticism over the GSA's decision. 

"It was deeply troubling that at our Oversight and Government Committee hearing GSA leaders were unable or unwilling to answer very basic questions about the abrupt change in scope, security requirements, and costs of this project," Connolly said in a release. "The public deserves answers, and I am hopeful the Inspector General will get to the bottom of this.” 

Connolly requested IG Carol Ochoa investigate the decision Feb. 28, asking her to address four central questions: what information the GSA analyzed to make its decision; whether it adequately compared factors with other locations; to what extent communications from outside sources such as the White House were considered; and if the current proposal properly accounts for the project's full costs. 

Ochoa, who wrote a letter to Connolly Monday informing him of the review, appears to be solely focused on the final question.

"The scope of our review will include whether the revised plan properly accounts for the full costs and security requirements of the project," Ochoa wrote.