The governor of Virginia and the head of the FBI have both demanded that the decision to move the FBI headquarters from downtown Washington to a Maryland suburb be reversed. They claim that the General Services Administration (GSA), the government agency in charge of the move, ignored potential conflicts of interest during the hiring process.
A panel consisting of two GSA officials and one FBI official unanimously suggested a location in Virginia for the new headquarters, and FBI Director Christopher Wray lambasted the decision to transfer the agency to Greenbelt, Md., in an internal communication to FBI workers. Instead of following the panel’s advice, a political appointee at the GSA selected the Greenbelt location.
Wray stressed that the problem was not the Greenbelt location itself but rather the impression of wrongdoing by the government. Also, “our worries about the process remain unanswered,” he said.
On Oct. 12, Wray issued a letter to GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan citing concerns about the possible conflicts of interest by the senior political appointee at GSA who differed from the panel’s recommendation.
There has been substantial lobbying by members of both parties in the Virginia legislature for the FBI to select a proposed location near Springfield, Virginia. It is evident that this process has been permanently compromised and polluted, and this decision must immediately be reversed,” the Virginia delegation to Congress and the state’s governor, Glenn Youngkin, said in a joint statement.
Carnahan, representing the GSA, has stated that “any notion that there was inappropriate influence is baseless,” thereby refuting Wray’s assertions.
The selection of Greenbelt, Maryland, is following all applicable procedures and rules and legal and ethical requirements. The White House supports the GSA’s decision to build on 61 acres in Greenbelt because, as GSA spokesperson Olivia Dalton explained, doing so would result in the lowest cost to taxpayers, the greatest number of transit alternatives for FBI employees, and the most certainty that construction could begin as soon as possible.