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GSA Requests $4B For New FBI Headquarters After States Make Final Pitches

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

Maryland and Virginia officials are still anxiously awaiting the federal government's site selection for a new 7,500-person FBI headquarters campus, but a new filing shows how the government's real estate arm aims to fund the project.

The General Services Administration this week released its request as part of the Biden administration's Fiscal Year 2024 budget process, calling for annual appropriations of $233M over the next 15 years for the FBI project, on top of $645M that has been previously appropriated, bringing the total federal investment to more than $4B.

The budget request, first reported by the Washington Business Journal, would use a new $10B Federal Capital Revolving Fund to fund the FBI headquarters and other large real estate projects. The request didn't shed any new light on where the FBI headquarters would be built. 

"GSA and FBI are currently working to select one of the three sites previously included in the 2016 procurement, on which GSA will construct a federally owned, modern and secure headquarters facility for at least 7,500 personnel in the D.C. suburbs," the budget request stated. 

The three sites that were first identified during the Obama administration consist of two properties in Prince George's County, Maryland, and one in Fairfax County, Virginia. The Maryland sites are an 80-acre property owned by Lerner Enterprises at the former Landover Mall and a 61-acre site near the Greenbelt Metro station controlled by the state and WMATA. The Virginia site is a 58-acre warehouse complex in Springfield that is already federally owned.

The size of the proposed campus makes it one of the region's most highly sought-after economic development prizes in years, as it would not only bring thousands of new jobs, but is also expected to spur additional growth in the surrounding area. 

State and local officials from each jurisdiction have sparred in recent months over the selection criteria for the campus the GSA released in September. The criteria gave the most weight to the FBI's "mission requirements," including a site's proximity to the FBI Academy in Quantico. 

The criteria also gave weight to racial equity — Prince George's County is majority Black — but that factor was weighted fourth-highest behind the FBI mission, transportation access and the development flexibility of the site. The fifth-highest factor was project cost.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat representing Prince George's County, in December attempted to hold up a bill to fund the government over the selection criteria, arguing that it appeared to favor Virginia. The House majority leader at the time, Hoyer agreed to a compromise, revising the bill to require the GSA to meet with each jurisdiction within 90 days to discuss the FBI campus.

The GSA met with Maryland and Virginia officials earlier this month. Following those meetings, officials from each jurisdiction held press conferences to publicly make their cases, WBJ reported.

Maryland officials said they asked the GSA to boost the weight of equity and cost in the selection — arguing the Virginia site would be far more expensive than their sites — and they criticized the process as changing the rules in the middle of the game. Virginia officials pushed back on the contention from their Maryland counterparts that their site would be costlier, and they said that Springfield also has a diverse population that should be considered in the equity part of the criteria. 

When the selection will be announced remains unclear. The GSA had said in September it would announce the selection "in the coming months," but the dispute over the criteria and this month's meetings appear to have delayed that. 

The FBI headquarters wasn't the only D.C.-area real estate project that the GSA sought funding for in its budget request. It also proposed $193.4M for the consolidation of the Department of Homeland Security at the St. Elizabeths West campus, $90.6M for repairs at the Ronald Reagan Building and $4.2M for remediation efforts at the Southeast Federal Center.