VIRGINIA (DC News Now) — Virginia’s congressional delegation on Wednesday formally called on the General Services Administration (GSA) to investigate the controversial choosing of Greenbelt, Md., as the future FBI headquarters over a site in Virginia.
In a letter to Acting Inspector General Robert Erickson, the 11-member delegation requested an investigation “into the serious concerns” revealed by FBI Director Christopher Wray last week.
The director claimed that a GSA official with ties to the owner of the Greenbelt property rejected a three-person panel that recommended Springfield, Va., as the best location.
“Throughout the site selection deliberations, GSA suppressed, dismissed and overrode the judgment and recommendation of career officials from GSA and the FBI,” the members wrote. “This has led the director of the FBI to take the extraordinary step of calling into question the fairness and transparency in the process and the GSA’s failure to adhere to its own site selection plan.”
This move by the Virginia delegation sets up a showdown between the two states over who takes the FBI from their rapidly dilapidated building in D.C. that many complain is crumbling. It also raises concern in Congress if members will support funding for the $3 billion project with lingering questions.
Virginia officials and Wray have bitterly complained about the GSA’s decision last week to award the future FBI site to Maryland after a battle over the rights on where the headquarters would go for the past 14 years.
And those officials called for the selection process to be started over. Maryland officials said that their delegation won fair and square and that their site is shovel-ready and would cost many millions less.
Wray told his staff in a letter last week that he had “concerns about fairness and transparency” in how Prince George’s County was chosen as the future home of the bureau.
He wrote that the “senior executive” with the GSA who once worked for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) rejected the three-person panel’s recommendations, which “is exceedingly rare.”
Maryland officials scoffed at that notion and said by far, the Greenbelt site is superior in terms of cost and location.
“We believe in the FBI. We are proud to support the FBI. We are thrilled that the FBI is coming to the state of Maryland,” Gov. Wes Moore said last week at a news conference in Greenbelt.
Others like Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen were sharply critical of Wray.
“The decision that was made is a final decision,” Hollen said at last week’s news conference. “It is absolutely wrong of Director Chris Wray to impugn and question the character and integrity and the independence of the site selection administrator.”