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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Virginia lawmakers: FBI should move to Northern Virginia

The J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington now serves as the FBI’s headquarters, but the agency plans a move.

Virginia lawmakers are urging the General Services Administration to pick Northern Virginia for the FBI’s relocated headquarters.

Virginia representatives Jim Moran, Frank Wolf, Gerry Connolly and Rob Wittman as well as Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner sent a letter to GSA Acting Administrator Daniel Tangherlini on Wednesday making the case why Northern Virginia would be a better choice than Maryland for the consolidated FBI campus.

The FBI is headquartered at the deteriorating J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. The GSA, which handles real estate transactions for federal agencies, put out a request for information Monday asking real estate developers to submit specific proposals for the new headquarters campus, which could include more than 2 million square feet of office space and up to 12,000 jobs.

The Virginia lawmakers note in their letter that Northern Virginia is already home to a majority of FBI employees as well as the FBI’s major training academy at Quantico. Stafford and Prince William counties have made the case to the FBI that it would be logical to move the headquarters to the Quantico area.

Here is the full text of the lawmakers’ letter to Tangherlini:

We write to you concerning the private sector lease transaction for a consolidated headquarters facility for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). As the General Services Administration begins this process, we urge you to consider Northern Virginia as the ideal location for the new FBI Headquarters.

As you know, the FBI’s mission and workforce have expanded in recent years, causing it to outgrow its aging headquarters building currently located in Washington, D.C. According to a November 2011, GAO report, “the FBI’s headquarters facilities—the Hoover Building and the headquarters annexes—do not fully support the FBI’s long-term security, space, and building condition requirements.”  We agree with this assessment and strongly support providing the FBI with a secure headquarters location that meets the needs of its workforce, allowing them to more effectively carry out their vital law enforcement responsibilities.

We know GSA recently issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking developer input on locations and ideas for how to build a new FBI headquarters in the National Capital Region (NCR).  Given the significance of this decision, we support a “source selection” procurement that gives appropriate weight to qualitative factors other than simply cost.

As you begin this process, we encourage GSA to keep in mind factors that we believe make a location in Northern Virginia a logical and appropriate choice. Already, the FBI has a major training academy located on a 385-acre complex in Quantico, Virginia, making a headquarters location in Northern Virginia particularly convenient for intra-agency activities. In addition, Northern Virginia is home to a significant majority of the FBI workforce that will be directly impacted by this decision.  Clearly, a location in Northern Virginia would minimize adverse effects on these employees.

We understand an RFI is only the first step in a progression of decisions that will include significant involvement by Congress. We trust that GSA will conduct this highly anticipated and scrutinized procurement in a fair and open process, and we stand ready to assist with any additional information in support of the selection of a site in Northern Virginia.

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