The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday will consider language requiring the FBI to develop a new plan to consolidate its workforce in the capital region within 30 days of the bill’s passage.
The move comes weeks after the administration abruptly canceled plans a decade in the making to relocate the FBI headquarters at the J. Edgar Hoover Building, and consolidate workers scattered among about a dozen other offices.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who succeeded retired senator Barbara Mikulski on the powerful Senate committee, said he pushed for the language to encourage the FBI to find a way to replace the crumbling headquarters.
“What they’ve said is they’re not going to proceed with the old procurement process,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “They have not indicated that they’re opposed to consolation. In fact we believe they’ll be supportive of moving forward with FBI consolidation.”
Members of Congress from Maryland and Virginia condemned the administration’s surprise reversal of plans to move the FBI’s 11,000 headquarters employees to one of three final locations in Greenbelt, Md., Landover, Md., or Springfield, Va.
At the time, General Services Administration officials said an $882 million funding gap remained, despite Congress appropriating $523 million for the project in 2017.
If adopted and passed through a final budget package, the language would redirect the FBI to not only come up with a consolidation plan, but also justify the cancellation, detail the scope and cost for keeping the current headquarters operational until a move and explain how the fiscal year 2017 money will be spent.
The House Appropriations Committee recently adopted similar language based on a proposal from Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) that would give the GSA 60 days from the bill’s passage to develop an alternative plan for consolidation.
The earlier plan would have awarded the winning bidder a chance to redevelop the Hoover site downtown and helped the government foot the bill for the new project.
“There are alternative paths,” Van Hollen said. “People want to develop a plan sooner rather than later. Exactly how that’s configured in terms of whether you put together procurement that sells the current building as part of the package is one option. I think there are other options.”