The inspector general for the General Services Administration is probing the decision to locate the facility in Greenbelt, Maryland, over a site in Virginia, according to a letter released Thursday by Virginia lawmakers. The new building would replace the FBI’s crumbling headquarters in nearby Washington, D.C.
Maryland officials who backed the Greenbelt bid immediately expressed confidence that the inspector general’s review will find that the process was found and the pick was fair.
“Let us be perfectly clear: the new FBI headquarters project is moving forward,” the joint statement read in part. “The GSA selected Greenbelt for the new, consolidated FBI headquarters based on the fact that it is the best site. Any objective evaluation will find that the GSA arrived at this decision after a thorough and transparent process.”
The statement was signed by Gov. Wes Moore, Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, as well as Maryland’s two U.S. senators and seven of its eight members of the House of Representatives. The group, dubbing themselves “Team Maryland,” noted in the statement that Greenbelt scored well for its comparatively lower cost, quicker timeline, easier access to transit and opportunity to promote equity in economic development.
“Although some may not like that outcome, the GSA has clearly demonstrated that this process was transparent,” the statement read.
Virginia’s senators and representatives, meanwhile, said in a joint statement that there was “overwhelming evidence” suggesting the process was influenced by politics and called on the GSA to pause anything related to the relocation until the review is complete.
The acting inspector general said that his office would immediately begin evaluating the GSA’s process and procedures for selecting the site and share a copy of any report that results, according to a letter sent to Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia.
The letter from Robert Erickson, the GSA’s acting inspector general, did not offer a timeline for when the review would be complete. The letter described the review as an “evaluation.”
“Our objective will be to assess the agency’s process and procedures for the site selection to relocate the FBI headquarters,” Erickson wrote in the letter.
“We applaud the inspector general for moving quickly and encourage him to move forward to complete a careful and thorough review,” Virginia’s delegation said in a joint statement.
The agency said it welcomes the review and pointed out that it had already released decision-making materials and a legal review of concerns raised by the director of the FBI.
“We carefully followed the requirements and process, and stand behind GSA’s final site selection decision,” an agency spokesperson said in a statement.
The review comes after FBI Director Christopher Wray told staff in an internal message earlier this month that he was concerned about a “potential conflict of interest” in a GSA executive choosing a site owned by a previous employer.
Wray said his objections were about the process rather than the site itself.
GSA, which manages the government’s real estate portfolio, denied any conflict. The agency said the site, about 13 miles (20 kilometers) northeast of Washington, was the cheapest one with the best access to public transit.
Maryland and Virginia have long been vying to land the FBI, which would bring at least 7,500 jobs and prestige to the winning community.
Baltimore Banner reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this article.