WASHINGTON — FBI Director Christopher Wray told agency employees he was concerned about “a potential conflict of interest” in choosing the bureau’s new headquarters in Maryland, in an email obtained by NBC News.
On Thursday, the General Services Administration confirmed that the FBI’s new home will be in Greenbelt, about 13 miles northeast of Washington. The other two finalists are Springfield, Virginia and Landover, Maryland.
His An unusually pointed letter The FBI told staff that it was “concerned about the fairness and transparency of the process and GSA’s failure to adhere to its own site selection program.” And a senior GSA administrator overruled a panel’s decision to select land previously owned by the administration. The employer, Washington Metropolitan Regional Transport Authority.
A panel of three initially determined that Springfield, Virginia, was the best location. The decision by a political appointee overseeing the process to reject a “consensus” recommendation by industry officials is “not ‘inherently inappropriate,’ but it is ‘extremely rare,'” Ray wrote.
“Specifically, the FBI observed that, at times, outside information was inserted in a way that appeared to disproportionately favor Greenbelt, and that justifications for leaving the group were varied and inconsistent,” Ray said.
Politicians from Virginia echoed Ray’s concerns about the process and expressed frustration after years of fighting with their Maryland counterparts to host the new headquarters. Some called for an investigation and a reversal of GSA’s decision.
“It is clear that this process has been irrevocably undermined and tainted, and this decision must now be reversed,” said a statement from both the Commonwealth’s senators, eight of its House members and Gov. Glenn Young.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said he plans to call for an inspector general’s investigation, calling the process “rotten.”
“Yes, there should be an IG investigation, we will call for one, but my hope is that the administration will realize that this process is rotten,” Warner told NBC News, “and, you know. The FBI deserves better answers; the American taxpayer deserves better answers.
Sen. Rep. Tim Kaine, D-Va., told NBC News that he and other Virginia lawmakers were “really disappointed” by the decision and “knew there was a political calculation to change those criteria.”
“It definitely needs to be reversed,” Cain added.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said the senators are “getting it wrong.”
“From a taxpayer standpoint, GSA made the right decision based on the mission, the availability of the site, the ability of the site to handle the necessary growth,” Cardin said. “It’s a great location in terms of transportation. I mean, the list goes on and on as to why they chose that site.
The Biden administration defended the process as “fair and transparent.” White House principal deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton told reporters that Greenbelt is the cheapest location for FBI workers with better access to public transportation.
GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan also supported the process.
“The GSA and FBI teams have spent countless hours working closely together for months, so we are disappointed that the FBI director is now making false claims about our agency, our personnel, and our site selection program and process,” he said. A Report. “Any suggestion of improper interference is without merit.”
Carnahan said GSA tried to “integrate the FBI’s feedback and appropriately address their concerns.”
However, Ray said the FBI’s concerns about the process “remain unresolved,” although Congress will “control the next steps.”
“There are still a lot of open questions and we still have a long way to go,” he said. “But ultimately, our focus will be on doing everything we can to ensure the FBI has a headquarters that best meets the needs of our employees, our mission and the American people.”