The Virginia congressional delegation is demanding an investigation into the decision to put the FBI headquarters rather than their state.
The General Services Administration (GSA) decided last week to put the new FBI headquarters in Greenbelt, Maryland rather than favored locations in Washington D.C. or Springfield, Virginia, raising concerns from lawmakers and FBI Director Christopher Wray. Virginia’s congressional delegation told the GSA’s inspector general that an investigation is needed into why Greenbelt was chosen over Springfield in a letter sent on Wednesday obtained by The Washington Post.
“There is overwhelming evidence suggesting that the (GSA) administered a site selection process fouled by political considerations and alleged impropriety,” the delegation said in the letter. “Throughout the site selection deliberations, GSA suppressed, dismissed, and overrode the judgment and recommendations of career officials from GSA and the FBI.”
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The lawmakers told the GSA inspector general that they felt the decision was politically motivated as the sole decider overruled a three-person expert panel who advocated for the new headquarters to be located in Springfield, where it would be positioned in close proximity to other U.S. national security sites. The decider, former GSA senior official Nina Albert, previously worked for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA), which owns the Greenbelt land.
Albert therefore had a “conflict of interest” in her decision to locate the new FBI headquarters in Maryland because of her “direct affiliation with one of the parties of this procurement,” according to letters Wray sent to the GSA. The Virginia delegation agreed with Wray’s conclusion in their Wednesday letter to the GSA, according to the Post.
“In defending the indefensible, GSA has decided to proceed with the selection of Greenbelt over the objections of its client agency, the FBI,” the delegation said in the letter. “These facts, when taken together, paint an ugly picture of a fatally flawed procurement that demands further investigation.”
The GSA maintains that the decision was made fairly and transparently, according to a statement from the agency sent to the Post. GSA head Robin Carnahan told the House Oversight Committee during a hearing Tuesday that the agency followed “all the rules” in deciding on the Maryland location, drawing scrutiny from congressional members.
“An Inspector General investigation is exactly what is needed to get to the bottom of this,” Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan told Carnahan during the hearing.
The GSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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