FBI Headquarters event

Gov. Glenn Youngkin was joined by other elected leaders Wednesday in making the case for FBI headquarters to move to Springfield.

A bipartisan group of Virginia’s federal, state and local leaders met in Springfield Wednesday, calling on the General Services Administration to choose the 58 acres of federally-owned land at the GSA Franconia Warehouse Complex for the new FBI headquarters.

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin was joined by Democratic U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, along with most of Northern Virginia’s congressional delegation and local officials from Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

The message from all 10 speakers on Wednesday morning was clear: The Fairfax County site fits the five core selection criteria laid out by GSA better than the two Maryland alternatives also under consideration.

The GSA is expected to finalize its site recommendation in the coming months, which will eventually end a decade of uncertainty for the agency, which the government says has outgrown the aging downtown D.C. building that was built in 1975. In Maryland, the GSA is also evaluating a 61-acre site owned by the state in Greenbelt and a 58-acre, federally-owned site at Landover.

Wednesday’s press conference followed a Feb. 13 letter signed by many of Wednesday’s speakers urging the GSA to make the move. It laid out why Springfield “meets the five selection criteria set forth by the GSA and FBI.” Those criteria are “support for the FBI mission requirement; transportation access; site development flexibility; promoting sustainable siting and advance equity; and cost.”

“We have a rock solid case for why Springfield, across each and every one of the criterion, will in fact result in a decision to put the FBI headquarters right here in Springfield, Virginia,” Youngkin said, citing a slew of private-sector companies making similar decisions to move to Northern Virginia. “... We have a robust infrastructure. We have business-ready sites. We have a world-class education system. We have a vibrant and diverse workforce.”

Speaking from the parking lot of Northern Virginia Community College’s medical education campus in front of the GSA site, the assembled officials pointed to several reasons the FBI should be drawn to the area: a multimodal transportation network including Metro, Virginia Railway Express, local and express buses and the “mixing bowl” of I-95, 395 and 495; strong K-12 schools and universities; and the ethnic diversity of Springfield and Fairfax County.

But the argument Virginia officials made Wednesday centered around one key point: geography. The Springfield site would be the closest to the FBI academy in Quantico and a short ride from the federal government in Washington.

In 2005, the FBI began openly discussing the need for new headquarters, saying the 2.4 million square-foot facility on Pennsylvania Avenue was deteriorating. The Government Accountability Office agreed in 2011, saying the agency had outgrown its current headquarters. Three years later, in 2014, the GAO recommended the construction of a new facility at one of the three Maryland and Virginia locations.

In 2017, under President Donald Trump, the GSA reversed course and said it was canceling the process for a move, saying the FBI still needed new digs but that the necessary funding wasn’t available. The GSA initiated a plan to rebuild the headquarters at their current location.

A report from the inspector general said that plan would be just as costly or even more expensive.

President Joe Biden’s administration restarted the process for a move after taking office in 2021. As the GSA comes around to making its ultimate recommendation, the FBI is still compiling a formal needs assessment for what will be built and determining exactly how many employees will need to work at the new headquarters.

Warner, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also said the transportation improvements already made or funded in the area would mean quicker construction time. And after critics accused former Trump of making the selection process more political, Warner said, the now-clear GSA process would lead to an obvious winner in Springfield.

“Where [Sen. Kaine] and I … work, things don’t move really quickly, but 15 years is way too long to make this decision. And many of us here were very concerned when the prior administration came in and basically put the whole process on hold. And together with our friends in Maryland, we said, ‘We need to finish this process,’” Warner said Wednesday. “So the GSA and the FBI went out and created a process that, I think, takes into consideration all the appropriate criteria … Virginia is a slam dunk winner in this competition.”

Jared Foretek covers the Manassas area and regional news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

(1) comment

Jeff Allen

Not that I disagree, yet if Youngkin is saying it, what's in it for him ($$$$)?

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