The Office of Inspector General for the General Services Administration plans to investigate the agency’s site selection process for the FBI’s new headquarters in Greenbelt, Maryland.
In a letter Thursday to Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, acting Inspector General Robert Erickson wrote that he received an inquiry from Mr. Warner asking his office to investigate how the GSA decided that the Maryland site would be the location for the bureau’s headquarters.
“My office is initiating an evaluation of GSA’s selection of the site. Our objective will be to assess the agency’s process and procedures for the site selection to relocate the FBI headquarters,” Mr. Erickson wrote. “We intend to begin this work immediately and will share with you and the relevant committees a copy of any report which may result from this evaluation.”
Virginia congressional lawmakers praised the news of the IG’s probe, saying in a joint statement: “Given the overwhelming evidence suggesting that the General Services Administration administered a site selection process fouled by politics, we agree that an inspector general investigation is the appropriate next step.”
They added, “We applaud the inspector general for moving quickly and encourage him to move forward to complete a careful and thorough review. In the meantime, the GSA must pause all activities related to the relocation until the IG’s investigation is complete.”
The GSA selected a site in Greenbelt, defying the recommendation of its experts who said a site in Springfield, Virginia, made more sense.
Nina Albert, a political appointee who joined the GSA in 2021, made the final decision. She left the agency last month before the FBI site decision was made public.
“I think you really risk damaging the credibility of the agency and its sense of fairness and lack of political interference in decision-making,” Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Virginia Democrat, said during a hearing of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee.
Mr. Connolly said he would partner with Rep. James Comer, Kentucky Republican and committee chairman, to urge the GSA’s inspector general to review the yearslong decision-making.
“This doesn’t seem right,” Mr. Comer said.
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray has complained about the decision, prompting GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan to ask her lawyers to review his objections. She said her general counsel dismissed the FBI’s complaints.
“They found those to be without merit,” Ms. Carnahan testified to the House Oversight Committee.
The GSA had a decision scorecard that weighed which location had the better transportation network, which had the closest proximity to other FBI stakeholders, which had the lower cost and which best served ideas of “equity.”