A decade into a push for a new headquarters in the Washington suburbs, the FBI will have to wait a little longer.
On Monday, the General Services Administration, which is handling the headquarters project, said it would delay selecting a location and builder until March of next year.
Three locations, in Greenbelt, Landover and Springfield, are under consideration for the project and a short list of developers has been selected to compete for the work.
Funding remains a persistent concern however, as construction is likely to cost upwards of $2 billion.
The GSA has committed to trading away the site of the current headquarters, the J. Edgar Hoover Building, to help finance the project as it pursues additional appropriations to foot the full cost.
President Obama sought $1.4 billion in appropriations for the project in his fiscal 2017 budge. If approved by Congress, that money would add to $390 million already set aside for the project, assuaging fears that the Hoover Building would not fetch a high enough price to build a 2.1 million-square-foot secure campus.
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“Due to a strong and overwhelmingly positive response from developers to the solicitation [gsa.gov] issued earlier this year, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) now plan to announce the selected site and offeror for the competition in early March 2017,” said GSA spokeswoman Renee Kelly, in a statement.
“GSA and FBI are encouraged by the proposals received and are confident that, if Congress provides the resources requested in the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget, we will be able to deliver on our commitment to provide a world class facility for the FBI and a good deal for the taxpayer,” she said.
[Final search begins for new FBI headquarters]
The delay didn’t please stakeholders in Maryland led by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), who has been pushing the GSA to make a selection before her retirement at the end of year and who wants to see the complex built in her state, not Virginia.
“I’m deeply disappointed in more delay,” Mikulski said in a statement. “The men and women of the FBI need a 21st century headquarters today to take on 21st century threats tomorrow. As this process moves forward, as Vice Chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations subcommittee I will continue to work my earrings off to put the funds in the federal checkbook for a new, fully consolidated headquarters. This is a headquarters that belongs in Prince George’s County, keeping our country and the American people safe while creating new jobs in Maryland.”
Delaying until 2017 means any decision will be made when a new president in office, and that could add its own intrigue. Hillary Clinton, for instance, counts Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) as a close confidant, and her vice presidential nominee is current Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D).
House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) issued a statement saying he too was disappointed.
“Additional delays undermine the FBI’s mission and our national security, as well as employee morale and safety. I will continue to monitor this process to ensure it is fair and stays on schedule, and I strongly oppose any additional delays,” he said.
David S. Iannucci, a top economic development aide to Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, said that “while we would have preferred that the GSA adhere to its original schedule of the end of the calendar year, the extra time does not change the fact that we believe Prince George’s County has without question the two best sites for the future location of the consolidated FBI headquarters.”
“We will continue to work with the GSA, FBI, state and congressional officials, and the three bid teams to refine the proposals and build on our already strong program for the Greenbelt and Landover sites,” he added.
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