FBI chief cites ‘potential conflict of interest’ in selection process for new headquarters

(Stephanie Scarbrough/Associated Press)

FBI chief cites ‘potential conflict of interest’ in selection process for new headquarters


November 9, 2023

The contentious debate over a new FBI headquarters further intensified Thursday


The director said he was concerned about a “potential conflict of interest” in the site selection and the White House defended the process as fair and transparent.

One Only one

The senator said there is a clear need for a federal investigation.

FBI Director Christopher


Wray’s unusually sharp criticism came in an internal email to agency employees obtained by


he Associated Press. It was the latest twist in a fierce battle between jurisdictions in the National Capital Region to win America’s top law enforcement agency.

The General Services Administration selected Greenbelt, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, as the home base for a new facility to replace the crumbling J. Edgar Hoover Building, which is just blocks from the White House. Wray said his objections were about the selection process and not the Greenbelt site itself.

The GSA, which manages government real estate


, said the location about 13 miles northeast of Washington was the cheapest with the best access to public transportation. But Wray claimed in his note that the choice came after a GSA director overruled a board and selected land owned by a former employer.

Democratic Senator Mark


Warner of Virginia, who also fought for the project, called for an investigation.

“I felt like this was a grossly political issue, with attempts to change the criteria, but I was surprised when we found out that three career officials unanimously chose Virginia and a political appointee rejected the proposal,” he said. be an Inspector General investigation.”

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In a joint statement, Virginia’s elected leaders called for the decision to be reversed, saying their state’s location remains the best choice under a fair consideration of the criteria.

But GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan stood by the agency’s work and said officials followed all laws and ethical considerations.

Any suggestion that there was improper interference is unfounded, she said.

White House Director






Secretary Olivia Dalton also defended the process. She did not comment on whether


Biden had some direct involvement in the final decision on the location.

I can tell you it was a fair and transparent process, Dalton told reporters on Air Force One as Biden traveled to Illinois on Thursday.

The 61 acres in Greenbelt provide both the lowest cost to taxpayers and the most transportation options for FBI employees, and we had the most certainty about the quick means to get a project started, she said.

Representative Steny






said Wray had previously indicated he would prefer to remain in Washington, but experts had said a suburban location would be a better choice for the FBI’s long-term security.

To say this process was somehow skewed is wrong, Hoyer said.

Maryland and Virginia had long tried to land the agency’s headquarters. Virginia is already home to the FBI Academy.

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Congress last year directed the administration to consider three locations for the new headquarters: Greenbelt and Landover, Maryland, and Springfield, Virginia.

A board including representatives from the GSA and the FBI unanimously agreed on Springfield, Wray i wrote

n the internal email

. But a senior GSA director changed course and chose Greenbelt, the FBI director said.

The FBI noted that at times outside information was introduced into the process in a manner that appeared to disproportionately favor Greenbelt, and the justifications for deviating from the panel were varied and inconsistent, he wrote.

The land in Greenbelt is owned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which once employed the senior GSA manager in question, according to Wray’s email.

Despite our engagement with GSA over the past two months on these issues, our concerns about the process remain unresolved, Wray wrote. There are still many open questions, and we still have a long way to go.

Carnahan, the head of the GSA, said her agency had listened to the FBI and that the GSA team worked every step of the way to incorporate the FBI’s feedback and appropriately address their concerns, including conducting a legal assessment of each concern expressed. ”

Whitehurst writes for the Associated Press. AP writers Seung Min Kim and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.


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