SEABROOK – Prince George’s County will sit in suspense a little longer over whether or not it will become home to the new consolidated headquarters for the FBI. The General Services Administration (GSA) said on Oct. 24 it will not make a decision on the location of the headquarters – or the bidder who will […]
SEABROOK – Prince George’s County will sit in suspense a little longer over whether or not it will become home to the new consolidated headquarters for the FBI.
The General Services Administration (GSA) said on Oct. 24 it will not make a decision on the location of the headquarters – or the bidder who will be constructing it – until March 2017, despite initially saying the contract would be awarded this December. The three sites in contention for the more than two million-square foot headquarters are Landover, Greenbelt and Springfield, Va.
Renee Kelly, a GSA spokeswoman, said the decision was made due to the large and “overwhelmingly positive” response to the GSA’s Request for Proposals.
“GSA and FBI are encouraged by the proposals received and confident that, if Congress provides the resources requested in the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget, we will be able to deliver on our commitment to provide a world class facility for the FBI and a good deal for the taxpayer,” Kelly said in a statement.
County officials, including County Executive Rushern Baker, III, hoped the decision would come before the new year and a new administration takes over in the White House. Congress has still not authorized full funding for the project, and the election could also change the makeup of that body in significant ways.
Additionally, Maryland’s senior senator, Barbara Mikulski, is retiring in 2017. Mikulski has been a powerful voice in fighting for funding for the FBI project and in bringing it to Maryland, and some worry that the loss of her clout as vice chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee could lower Maryland’s chances.
She said in a statement that she was “deeply disappointed” in the delay, adding, “This is a headquarters that belongs in Prince George’s County, keeping our country and the American people safe while creating new jobs in Maryland.”
Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine is currently a Virginia senator, and presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is close with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, leading some to worry about Prince George’s chances of winning the headquarters.
Anthony Brown, the Democratic candidate for Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, said, “Look, Gov. Terry McAuliffe is also good friends with the Clintons, and let’s face it, relationships matter. He’s got a great relationship with them and so he certainly has their ear.”
Garth Beall, a manager at Renard Development Company, which has placed a bid to develop the FBI headquarters alongside retail opportunities at the Greenbelt Metro station, said the new timeline does change the dynamic.
“It definitely integrates a different complexion with a new administration. Hopefully, politics doesn’t get into it, but the idea is out there,” Beall said. “Am I little bit more concerned now? Yes.”
However, Beall was quick to say he believes the benefits of the Greenbelt site so far outweigh the other options that he is still confident it will get the nod.
“I’m still feeling pretty good,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-5) also doesn’t believe this delay will hurt Maryland’s chances.
“This delay does not change the fact that Maryland offers the two strongest sites. A fair assessment of the assets, cost and schedule for both Greenbelt and Landover make clear that Prince George’s County is the right choice for the FBI,” he said in a statement.
Despite a potential President Clinton’s Virginia ties, Brown also feels the county’s sites will ultimately prevail.
“The Clinton Administration is going to make the best decision based on the merits, so when I say I’m worried about Vice President Kaine or Gov. McAuliffe, certainly those relationships are enough for the prize to get a second look, but at the end of the day, I’m confident that the GSA and the FBI apply the criteria and on the merits, we’re going to do well,” he said.
Beall said GSA’s decision did not come as a surprise, based on information he and other bidders had been hearing. He also said extending the timeframe like this could have some benefits.
“Overall, I think it’s a little bit better to have a little more time,” he said. “It helps us a little bit because it gives us some extra time to make sure everything is right and ready in our proposal.”
But, he did say extending the time frame also opens up more opportunities for setbacks or other circumstances – political or otherwise – to come up in this process.
Hoyer said he will be working to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“The hardworking employees of the FBI deserve a new, consolidated headquarters as soon as possible. Additional delays undermine the FBI’s mission and our national security, as well as employee morale and safety,” he said. “I will continue to monitor this process to ensure it is fair and stays on schedule, and I strongly oppose any additional delays.”
Beall said his company is still moving forward with the bid process. Their detailed site plan is almost complete, he said, and they expect to meet with GSA officials within the next few weeks.
“I would absolutely have liked to see it done by the end of the year, but I understand,” he said. “The good thing is this reflects a few months’ extension of the award but no gap in moving forward with the project as a whole.”