The U.S. General Services Administration has made changes to how it plans to weigh different criteria in choosing either Maryland or Virginia to become the new home of FBI headquarters, including reducing the importance of how close a site is to the FBI training academy in Quantico, Virginia.
An FBI document obtained by The Banner last month indicated the bureau preferred to be close to the academy, which Maryland officials previously said advantaged Virginia.
In a joint statement, Gov. Wes Moore, members of Maryland’s congressional delegation and Prince George’s County officials said they were “encouraged” by the changes and applauded the GSA for correcting its “flawed approach released in September that ignored taxpayer costs and the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to equity.”
GSA is weighing three options for a new FBI headquarters from a list compiled in 2014: Greenbelt or Landover in Maryland, or Springfield in Virginia.
Maryland representatives said they “remain confident” that Greenbelt and Landover would “provide the best operational and cost-effective options for the new, consolidated FBI Headquarters.”
Despite the changes, a spokesperson for Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin maintained the commonwealth “remains the best location for the FBI.”
“The Commonwealth offers a diverse workforce, extensive transportation network, and close proximity to public and private sector partners,” Macaulay Porter said.
Following the changes, the weight given to each location’s proximity to “mission-related” locations such as Quantico, the U.S. Capitol and the White House will be reduced from 35% to 25%. Transportation access will be re-weighted from 25% to 20%, while “promoting sustainable siting and advancing equity” will be raised from 15% to 20%. Cost will become even more important, re-weighted from 10% to 20%.
The last criterion, site development flexibility and risks of meeting expected construction start dates, will not change.
The new headquarters would replace the FBI’s aging J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C., and the competition between Maryland and Virginia has been fierce. Officials representing both states made their final pitches to the GSA earlier this year.
Moore has said that Prince George’s County — where both proposed Maryland sites are located — is the best option for the new headquarters.
Speaking to The Baltimore Banner in late June, Moore said he was confident the state would win the battle for the headquarters.
“I’m confident that we have made the best pitch and the best argument. And I’m confident that they understand how important this is to me, how important this is to Steny Hoyer and the delegation, how important this is to the people of this state,” Moore said.
Moore, members of Maryland’s congressional delegation and Prince George’s County officials have also said that a location in the majority-Black county would fulfill the goal of improving equity in the federal government. They also say it’s an opportunity for growth for the county.
In the joint statement Friday, officials added that the locations are “shovel-ready,” emphasizing their access to transportation, and their ability to “spur greater equity and opportunity.”
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks praised the changes made by the GSA.
“While there is much more work to do, I’m pleased to be moving toward closure in a more fair way,” the Democrat said in a statement. “Securing the FBI headquarters is a generational opportunity for Prince Georgians and all Marylanders, and I will continue to fight fiercely to bring this home.”
The FBI document circulated in June also argued that a location closer to Quantico would be more convenient than a location in Maryland because some employees need to go back and forth between headquarters and the training academy.
Maryland officials were quick to criticize the argument. Sen. Ben Cardin said in a statement that the FBI had once again missed “the point of what equity means for the communities that have been victim to systemic bias.”
“This is a decision that transcends the FBI’s myopic interests, which is why the General Services Administration has been tasked with the site selection,“ he added.
The changes announced Friday also simplify the scoring methods that will be used by a selection panel, according to a GSA press release.
The agency anticipates making a selection in the next few months, according to a Friday statement.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers recommended setting aside $100 million in the state budget to help relocate the FBI to Prince George’s County, and the state’s congressional delegation put aside $375 million in a similar gesture in 2022.