Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a full committee hearing on “FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project – What Happened and What’s Next.”
The hearing featured testimony from Michael Gelber, acting commissioner of the Public Building Service at the General Services Administration; Richard Haley, assistant director and chief financial officer of the Finance Division at the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and David Wise, director of the Physical Infrastructure Team at the Government Accountability Office.
For more information on their testimonies click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“We convened this hearing to listen to testimony from government witnesses from the General Services Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Government Accountability Office about the cancellation of the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project and what comes next for housing the FBI.
“The cancelled project would have replaced the current FBI Headquarters, the J. Edgar Hoover Building located at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue, with a new headquarters in either Maryland or Virginia.
“The project involved an exchange of the J. Edgar Hoover Building to a private developer.
“The developer would then in turn construct a campus-like facility, with proper safeguards for security, suitable for the FBI’s new focus as more of an intelligence agency as opposed to simply a law enforcement one.
“The new facility would also consolidate the myriad of FBI satellite offices which would make the bureau more efficient and save taxpayer dollars.
“I have no doubt that there is a need to replace the FBI’s existing headquarters.
“The men and women of the FBI, who keep us safe, deserve an office building that meets their needs.
“The security and efficiency arguments for their case are clear. What is not clear is why this project was suddenly halted, why Congress was not notified in advance, and what happens now.
“Senators should not have to find out about a decision of this magnitude by reading about it in the Washington Post.
“Regardless as to how this decision was made, and how poorly it was rolled out, it is possible that the mechanics of this deal led to this eventual outcome.
“The exchange of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, which was at the heart of this proposal, may have been doomed from the start.
“According to the GSA Inspector General, only 8 building exchanges of this type had been executed prior to the start of this project, and none of those exchanges involved a building worth more than $11 million.
“And while there is one significant exchange in the pipeline, it is not yet complete.
“The exchange of the J. Edgar Hoover building, a much larger building than any of the completed projects, located in the heart of the nation’s capital on one of America’s most famous streets, is in a completely different league.
“The questions now are: where do we go from here and how do we find a solution?
“The FBI needs a new headquarters. How do we get there and what do we do in the interim to address the FBI’s needs?
“Does it make sense to pump millions of taxpayer dollars into the J. Edgar Hoover Building to upgrade it only to tear the building down in a few years, especially since there is over $100 million dollars in pending repair and maintenance needs in the building today.
“Should the FBI pair back its many requirements for a new facility, reducing its size and scope to make it more affordable for the American taxpayer?
“Should we look at alternative financing mechanisms such as a lease-buyout arrangement where a developer constructs and leases a facility to the FBI with the agency having the option to buy the facility years in the future?
“These are all topics for this hearing today. I look forward to the testimony.”