FBI Director Christopher Wray expressed concern last week that the General Services Administration (GSA) had a “conflict of interest” in selecting the new FBI headquarters location, according to a letter obtained by Punchbowl News reporter Max Cohen.
The GSA announced Wednesday that it decided on Greenbelt, Maryland, for the location of the new $300 million FBI headquarters, rather than Washington D.C. or Virginia. Wray said that the FBI had concerns about “transparency and fairness” in the GSA’s selection process, which critics felt was politically motivated, according to the letter obtained by Cohen.
“Unfortunately, we have concerns about fairness and transparency in the process and GSA’s failure to adhere to its own site selection plan,” Wray wrote, according to the letter. “We identified concerns about a potential conflict of interest involving the site selection authority and whether changes that individual made in the final stage of the process adhered to the site selection criteria.”
“Despite our engagement with GSA over the last two months on these issues, our concerns about the process remain unresolved,” he continued.
Another twist in FBI HQ process… FBI Director Chris Wray writes to employees saying he has “concerns about fairness and transparency in the process and GSA’s failure to adhere to its own site selection plan.”
GSA chose Greenbelt, MD as new HQ site yesterday pic.twitter.com/dHWVS8D9qO
— Max Cohen (@maxpcohen) November 9, 2023
Originally, the most important criteria for the GSA to select a new headquarters location was proximity to other national security assets, such as the Quantico training facility in Virginia, according to The Washington Post. Maryland leaders lobbied to make cost-effectiveness a more important criterion to the process, and in December 2022, then-House Majority Leader and Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer held up an omnibus bill until language was added changing the GSA’s selection standards, giving his state a better shot for the new headquarters.
Wray wrote to the GSA in October that the FBI would not accept moving its headquarters from D.C. to Maryland, according to the Post. He noted that a GSA official designated to the selection process had previously worked for Metro, giving him “direct affiliation with one of the parties of this procurement,” and should therefore be reappointed.
The GSA denied his October request, according to the Post. Wray reiterated these concerns in his letter on Thursday.
“There are still a lot of open questions, and we still have a long way to go,” Wray wrote, according to Cohen.
“GSA and FBI teams have spent countless hours working closely together over many months, so we’re disappointed that the FBI Director is now making inaccurate claims directed at our agency,” GSA said in a statement on Thursday. “Any suggestion that there was inappropriate interference is unfounded.”
The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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