Press Releases

National Capital Region Delegation Calls on Department of Justice Inspector General to Investigate FBI Headquarters Relocation Project

f t # e
Washington, September 28, 2018 | comments

Today, Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05), Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (MD-07), Ranking Member Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11), and Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02), John Sarbanes (MD-03), John Delaney (MD-06), Don Beyer (VA-08), Anthony G. Brown (MD-04), and Jamie Raskin (MD-08) sent a letter to the Department of Justice Inspector General requesting that the Inspector General investigate the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) decision-making process for the consolidated FBI headquarters project.

“We are asking that you investigate the FBI’s decision-making process for the project to include whether the FBI made the decision to abandon the suburban campus option, participated in the decision but did not make the ultimate decision about changing the plan for the FBI Headquarters, and whether the FBI acted pursuant to direction from President Trump, any White House official, or Office of Management and Budget (OMB) official,” wrote the Members. “It is incredibly alarming that the revised plan suddenly proposed keeping the new FBI headquarters at the Pennsylvania Avenue location when the FBI and GSA had consistently stated that the Hoover Building was not adequate to meet the FBI’s security and operational needs.”

“While the Administration has yet to send a prospectus to Congress, both the sudden reversal on site selection and reports that President Trump is involved in the day-to-day planning of this project call into question the integrity of this process,” continued the Members. “Reports that the President is ‘obsessed’ with the details of constructing a new, fully consolidated FBI headquarters at the current site on Pennsylvania Avenue are deeply concerning.”

In July 2017, the Trump Administration announced that it was canceling the previous process to select a site and construct a new consolidated FBI headquarters. In February 2018, the General Services Administration (GSA) and FBI released a report recommending that the FBI headquarters remain at the current site in downtown Washington, DC. The unexpected decision reversed 10 years of recommendations that the FBI relocate to a consolidated headquarters.

An August 2018 report released by the GSA Office of the Inspector General found that GSA inaccurately accounted for significant costs associated with remaining at the current FBI headquarters in Washington, DC and found that GSA Administrator Murphy may have misled Congress on the involvement of the White House in the project.

 

The full letter follows and is available here.

The Honorable Michael Horowitz

Inspector General

Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20530

Dear Inspector General Horowitz:

Based on the findings of the General Services Administration (GSA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report dated August 28, 2018, on the revised plan for a new Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) headquarters consolidation project, we ask that you begin an investigation to review the FBI decision-making process in developing the revised plan.  It is incredibly alarming that the revised plan suddenly proposed keeping the new FBI headquarters at the Pennsylvania Avenue location when the FBI and GSA had consistently stated that the Hoover Building was not adequate to meet the FBI’s security and operational needs.

In July 2017, the Trump Administration announced that it was canceling the previous process to select a site and construct a new consolidated FBI headquarters.  At that time, three sites were under consideration in Maryland and Virginia.  GSA and FBI officials stated that the cancellation was due to a lack of appropriated funds.  At a hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to discuss the cancelation, the FBI and GSA committed to the Chairman that they would send a new plan to construct a fully consolidated FBI headquarters to Congress.  The plan that they subsequently sent reversed over ten years of recommendations for the FBI to leave the Pennsylvania Avenue site because it would not allow the FBI to consolidate fully all headquarters employees at a single location and it does not meet its previously stated security requirements. 

While the Administration has yet to send a prospectus to Congress, both the sudden reversal on site selection and reports that President Trump is involved in the day-to-day planning of this project call into question the integrity of this process. Reports that the President is “obsessed” with the details of constructing a new, fully consolidated FBI headquarters at the current site on Pennsylvania Avenue are deeply concerning.  With the Trump International Hotel being located across the street from the current FBI building, and given the fact that President Trump has a significant personal financial stake in that hotel, it is troubling that he would take such a hands-on role in a project that has the potential to benefit him financially.  These reports raise more questions about whether the Administration has acted improperly in seeking to keep the FBI at the Pennsylvania Avenue site.

We are asking that you investigate the FBI’s decision-making process for the project to include whether the FBI made the decision to abandon the suburban campus option, participated in the decision but did not make the ultimate decision about changing the plan for the FBI Headquarters, and whether the FBI acted pursuant to direction from President Trump, any White House official, or Office of Management and Budget (OMB) official.

In addition, we also ask that your investigation include the process that went into developing the misleading “funding gap analysis” included in the revised plan.  As GSA Inspector General Ochoa writes in the August 28 report, the revised plan would cost approximately $516 million in employee relocation and facility costs for moving 2,300 employees to other FBI offices. With the addition of these previously undisclosed costs, the revised consolidation plan would be more expensive than the original plan for a suburban campus.

We request that you examine the following questions:

  • Did the FBI consider these costs to the federal government when the Director was weighing the suburban campus against retaining the current site?
  • Did the FBI communicate these costs to GSA, OMB and the White House to be included in the revised plan? 
  • Was the FBI or GSA instructed not to disclose those numbers to Congress? 
  • What role did the FBI play in developing the costs used in the “funding gap analysis?” 
  • Did the FBI perform any independent funding analysis?  If so, was that analysis communicated to GSA, OMB, or the White House?  We ask that you review the FBI’s role in the development of the project costs and confirm that accurate and truthful testimony has been provided to Congress on all matters related to the FBI headquarters project.
  • GSA Public Buildings Commissioner Dan Mathews told the GSA OIG that Director Wray was not opposed to a suburban campus site if it offered significant savings.  Did Director Wray consider the full costs and benefits of the various options including the per person cost of each option and the potential value for the JEH site?

Congress and the public must be reassured that such a dramatic shift in direction for this project is based on full and accurate information rather than simply to benefit the President’s financial interest. 

f t # e