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Updated requirements in FBI headquarters search could give Maryland a boost

Updated requirements for the location that will house the FBI’s new headquarters that prioritize cost to taxpayers and the social impact could provide a boost to Maryland’s chances of being chosen.

Following consultations with Virginia and Maryland delegations, The General Services Administration (GSA) announced that while the core elements of the site selection plan remain the same, cost has become a higher priority.

“We have updated the plan to incorporate new government-wide directives and to increase the consideration of cost to deliver better value for taxpayers,” a statement from the GSA said. “We believe these adjustments will support a process that results in a site that best serves the FBI and the public for years to come.”

In addition to prioritizing cost, the updated plan simplifies the scoring methodology for choosing a site and includes standards laid out in Executive Order 14091, which requires federal government agencies to integrate equality into decision making and planning.

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The importance of being near other FBI facilities has been lowered from 35 percent to 25 percent, and the importance of transportation from 25 percent to 20 percent, while upping the significance of cost and social equity to 20 percent each, according to the release.

Virginia has been assumed to have the clear advantage as it is already home to Quantico — which currently houses the FBI Academy and other training facilities — but Maryland’s congressional delegation and Gov. Wes Moore (D) argued more factors need to be considered then just convenience of location.

Maryland officials have long called the process for selecting a new multimillion dollar headquarters unfair, but in a joint statement, Moore and the state’s congressional
delegation said they were encouraged by the changes made by the GSA.

“We are encouraged to see today’s announcement from the General Services Administration corrects the flawed approach released in September that ignored taxpayer costs and the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to equity,” the statement reads. “Today’s revised guidelines are a critical step in the right direction.”

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Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine also responded to the updates, arguing that the GSA’s initial criteria wasn’t plucked out of thin air, and that the changes would only cause further delays.

“While we are concerned that these changes to the criteria will further delay what has already been a drawn-out, decade-long process to select a new site to replace the dilapidated headquarters downtown, we remain confident that Virginia continues to be a home run in every category, and encourage the GSA to draw this process to a close sooner rather than later,” Warner and Kaine said in a joint statement.

In addition, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) and other conservatives have opposed the bureau’s new location being in the Washington D.C. area at all.

“This idea that we’re going to build a new big Pentagon and put all the FBI mainly in
one place I don’t think is a good structure,” he said at a news conference in the Capitol.

McCarthy said he prefers scattering the FBI across many locations.

“They’re asking for billions, and I just don’t think that’s the best use or the best structure,” McCarthy said.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has proposed moving the FBI to Huntsville, Alabama.

Source: The Hill

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