Monday’s Capital Business included a profile of Dan M. Tangherlini, acting administrator of the General Services Administration, who has proposed relocating the Federal Bureau of Investigation from the J. Edgar Hoover Building and redeveloping 22 acres of offices south of the National Mall.
Because all of Tangherlini’s thoughts couldn't fit in the initial story, more of them are included below, edited and condensed for brevity.
Is this realistic? Could the FBI really leave Washington? Could we have a neighborhood at Federal Triangle South?
I don’t think you need all of those things to happen for something to happen. Could the FBI leave Washington? I don’t think that’s necessarily the outcome. I think we want to make sure that the region has an opportunity to compete to meet the needs of the FBI going forward. Look, we wouldn’t have ever brought this idea out there if the FBI, people on the Hill, people in the administration, hadn’t thought through [the implications of] actually asking this question. The fact is that the FBI really, for the long-term, can’t stay where they are now.
This dynamic where the GSA puts either the same number of workers into less space or more workers into the same amount of space — is that a permanent change?
It’s kind of an evolution, this pendulum swing around this approach. You know when I was at the Treasury Department, one thing I did in my office is I moved out of the 700-square-foot giant office I had there and moved into some space we created outside the office, some collaborative work space...people came and kind of knocked on the door and said, ‘Is this for real, can I really use this?’...The really strict hierarchies and the office geography associated with that hierarchy is beggining to break down. And frankly it needs to break down if we are going to be as efficient as can be.
Have you visited any sites where the FBI could go?
I really haven’t...What we’re interested in doing is asking the marketplace ‘All right here's our challenge and we think we have a really valuable spot.’ By the way, when the FBI was built there, at the corner of 9th and Pennsylvania Avenue, that wasn’t considered the corner of Main and Main the way it is today. The city has evolved around it, a whole community has been built around it, so in many ways that building not only is not functionally appropriate for the people inside it is functionally obsolete for the people outside it as well.
Del. [Eleanor Holmes] Norton said to me that she thinks the FBI needs to remain in D.C. for operational reasons. Is that true?
I’ve met other people who do as good a job as she does representing her constituency who have an equally emphatic argument about why the FBI needs to be in their jurisdiction as well.
But operationally, the director of the FBI could have their office outside the District and that would not be a security problem?
We got into this process working closely with the FBI and the administration, so what I would say is that there are more than a few people who think they can work this issue through. That having been said, we expect the District to compete and compete aggressively if that’s what they want to do.
Have you toured the Hoover Building?
They showed me around and one quick turn through the hallways and you understand how somehow you’re able to get to 2.4 million square feet and turn it into an incredibly crowded building. Even with the people they have in it, it’s just not designed for the kind of human occupancy that they need to have. It’s really designed for huge amounts of files and information.
Have you any idea of how much interest you’ll get in your search for Federal Triangle South ideas?
I will tell you — there aren’t many opportunities you’re ever going to have to get the kind of signature frontage and square footage, the sheer volume of square footage, you’re going to get on Independence Avenue. When was the last time anything was commercially available on Independence Avenue?
How are things with the Old Post Office project?
We have really, really talented professionals who are working on that, so my job is to really let them be and not get involved in their negotiations, but from what I hear from them they’re making good progress.
So you haven’t heard - uh-oh there is a major costs the Trumps are concerned about or something?
I haven’t heard that. But I’ve also told them, look their job is to get the best possible deal for the taxpayers and that I will support them in whatever decision they make in terms of ensuring we get that value, even if that includes saying we’ve got to walk away.
It’s been suggested to me that your dream job is secretary of transportation.
That would be a cool job, but I’ve had a lot of dream jobs. I’ve had a lot jobs that have been fun.
Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz