Watchdog investigates move of FBI headquarters to Maryland

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal watchdog is investigating how Biden administration The site for the new FBI headquarters was selected following a contentious competition Allegations of conflict of interest From the Director of the Bureau.

The inspector general for the General Services Administration is investigating the decision to replace the FBI’s crumbling headquarters in Washington, DC. with convenience Greenbelt in Virginia, rather than a site in Maryland, according to a letter released Thursday by Virginia lawmakers.

GSA, for its part, said it chose the site because of low costs and easy access to transportation. It stands behind the process.

Consideration for a new headquarters had been debated for more than a decade, and nearby states Virginia and Maryland competed fiercely for the project. The selection of Maryland earlier this month brought harsh criticism from Virginia. The state’s senators and representatives said in a joint statement Thursday that there is “overwhelming evidence” that the process has been tainted by politics. They called on GSA to suspend anything related to the transfer until the review is complete.

“We commend the inspector general for moving quickly and encourage him to complete a careful and thorough review,” Virginia’s representatives said in a joint statement.

Maryland lawmakers, on the other hand, said their state was chosen only because it has the best site and the plan will go forward.

“By any objective assessment, GSA made this decision after a thorough and transparent process,” its leaders said in their own joint statement.

An evaluation of the agency’s operations and site selection procedures will begin immediately, the acting inspector general said in a letter to Sen. Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia.

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The GSA, which manages the government’s real estate portfolio, said it welcomed the review and pointed out that it had already released legal review and decision materials on concerns raised by FBI Director Christopher Wray.

“We carefully followed the requirements and processes and stand behind GSA’s final site selection decision,” an agency spokesperson said in a statement.

The review comes after Ray told employees in an internal message earlier this month that he was concerned about a “potential conflict of interest” in the GSA administrator’s selection of a site owned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Ray said his objections were more about the process than the site.

GSA denied any conflict, saying the site, about 13 miles (20 kilometers) northeast of Washington, was cost-effective, had better access to transportation and could be completed quickly.

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