From Headquarters Building to Field Offices: Examining the FBI’s Real Estate Needs and Strategy

2167 Rayburn House Office Building

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0 Wednesday, April 10, 2024 @ 10:00 | Contact: Justin Harclerode 202-225-9446

This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management.

Witness List:

  • Mr. Elliot Doomes, Commissioner, Public Buildings Service, General Services Administration | Witness Testimony
  • Mr. Nicholas Dimos, Assistant Director, Finance and Facilities Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation | Witness Testimony
  • Opening remarks, as prepared, of Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee Chairman Scott Perry (R-PA) from the hearing, entitled, “From Headquarters Building to Field Offices: Examining the FBI’s Real Estate Needs and Strategy”:

    The FBI has a massive real estate portfolio across this country, comprised of a headquarters building in downtown Washington, D.C., 56 field offices and more than 350 satellite offices, also known as “resident agencies,” under its field office umbrella. Together the network of field offices and resident agencies represents more than 12 million rentable square feet of space. The FBI also controls the campus in Quantico, Virginia, a data center in Pocatello, Idaho, and has a substantial presence at the United States Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, and, several years ago, GSA completed construction of a new records management facility in Winchester, Virginia.  

    Currently, we have GSA prospectuses for FBI leases pending Committee approval that would account for nearly 800,000 square feet of space, costing $40 million annually, or nearly $800 million over the terms of the proposed leases. And, we recently received the official proposal for a new FBI headquarters building in Greenbelt, Maryland.

    The bottom line is – the FBI’s space footprint is massive and costly. And, so it is critical that we ensure the FBI’s real estate is right-sized and that we understand how each proposal for space fits into an overall strategy.

    But, some of the FBI’s space proposals simply don’t make sense. For example, despite the FBI decreasing the number of people working out of a new headquarters, the current headquarters proposal maintains the same 2.1 million square feet of space as was proposed in 2016. And, the price has ballooned. The cost went from under $3 billion to now well over $4.3 billion and that is on top of the FBI proposing to maintain a headquarters footprint in the District of Columbia.

    To make matters even worse, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) proposes to fund most of this project through the creation of a new Federal Capital Revolving Fund (FCRF) that would need $10 billion in seed money.

    The FBI testified before this subcommittee a few months ago that the Greenbelt site, in their view, created challenges because of the site size and the presence of wetlands. And, I suspect these challenges also significantly increase construction costs. At the hearing in December, the Bureau also raised concerns about GSA’s site evaluation and selection process due to former GSA Public Buildings Commissioner Nina Albert going against the recommendation of the nonpartisan site selection panel and selecting a site owned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) -- her former employer. 

    Following this hearing, Chairman Graves and I sent letters continuing to inquire into this decision, which included document production requests to both GSA and the FBI. 

    While I appreciate GSA and the FBI responding to our letter and providing an initial document production, I would like to know the status of efforts to identify and produce ALL responsive documents to the Committee. This includes copies of communications between GSA, the FBI, and other Administration officials.  You received the oversight request five months ago and have had more than enough time to fully respond and comply with the Committee’s requests.

    Returning to a point I raised previously, we currently have lease prospectuses for FBI field offices pending before the Committee.

    After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and continuing after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the FBI’s space requirements were adjusted, resulting in an expansion of its field operations.

    In recent years, the full Committee has been asked to approve new and replacement leases for many of these field offices, yet it has been unclear how GSA and the FBI are assessing ongoing space needs based on current threats and mission.

    The taxpayer winds up paying for many of these leased buildings several times over without any equity accruing even after the taxpayer invests tens of millions of dollars for special buildouts in these buildings. However, GSA continues to be stifled from even negotiating discounted purchase options in these leases despite overwhelming passage of legislation authorizing GSA to do so. We have an opportunity here to make sure we don’t overbuild and over-lease for the FBI and save the taxpayer potentially billions of dollars.

    I hope today we can get some answers as the Committee prepares to review any proposal for a new FBI headquarters and pending and future FBI field office lease prospectuses.

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