Officials from the General Services Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday told a Senate panel that they will have a new FBI headquarters plan put together in 120 days, according to the Washington Business Journal.
The commitment came after questions around why the two agencies abandoned plans last month for a new, consolidated $2 billion FBI complex. GSA and FBI officials said the property exchange deal they were pursuing raised concerns about how the existing FBI building would be valued. They also cited a lack of appropriations and rising costs for why they scuttled the project.
A revised procurement process could exclude a land swap and allow the GSA to move forward with the contract award process without the necessary $2 billion of federal funding in place. In the meantime, the GSA will explore a repair and upgrade plan for the existing FBI headquarters.
The GSA had been engaged in a tug of war with Congress over funding for a new FBI building until late last year. In December, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee finally approved an $834 million spend, providing federal investment did not exceed $2.11 billion and the size of the building was limited to 2.1 million square feet. Other conditions included a two-year deadline for awarding the project, submittal of a detailed project report to Congress and full consolidation of DC-area FBI offices into the new building.
The GSA had whittled down potential spots for the new headquarters to three — two in Maryland and one in Virginia — although it never made an official decision. The agency was looking for a turnkey construction manager to design and build the new facility, as well as handle the administrative and financial elements of the project.
The GSA's use of land swaps to finance new projects came under fire when the agency's Inspector General questioned the practice in an audit report issued in March. The findings led the GSA to cancel its plans to use a property exchange for a new Department of Labor headquarters and called into question the entire process. That same audit report was also used to question the viability of the land swap for the FBI headquarters.
The Inspector General said the GSA did not account for enough risk in the execution of its land swaps, a practice that led to property overvaluation on several occasions. The IG also said that the GSA's exchange deals did not include sufficient contingencies, which had the potential to leave the agency short of the cash needed to complete the land swap deal.