DeFazio, Titus Request Hearing On GSA’s Efforts to Hide White House Involvement in New FBI Headquarters Plan

Sep 13, 2018
Press Release

September 13, 2018

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Ranking Member Dina Titus (D-NV) sent a letter to Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), requesting an oversight hearing after a recent report from the General Services Administration (GSA) Inspector General (IG) found that GSA intentionally misled Congress about White House interference in the decision to cancel a plan to relocate the FBI headquarters. In addition, the IG found that GSA misrepresented the costs associated with canceling the long-planned relocation of the FBI headquarters.

The GSA IG found that the Administrator of GSA intentionally misled Congress about the role of White House officials in the decision-making process regarding the project—a potential conflict of interest. 

“President Trump still receives profits from the Trump Organization and any private development of the J. Edgar Hoover Building (Hoover Building) where the FBI is currently located could directly negatively impact the profitability of the Trump Organization’s Trump International Hotel located across the street from the Hoover Building.  Given this conflict of interest, the involvement of the White House in this real estate matter warrants further scrutiny by the Committee to assure the public that the FBI and GSA are making real estate decisions that are in the best interests of American taxpayers not the Trump Organization,” the Members wrote.

Additionally, the GSA IG found that GSA presented Congress with an inaccurate cost assessment of the new project and that, contrary to this assessment, the former plan to use a suburban location was significantly less expensive and had a clear plan for security.  

The full letter can be found here. A link to the IG report can be found here. 

September 13, 2018


The Honorable Bill Shuster
Chairman
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
U.S. House of Representatives
2167 Rayburn House Office Building 
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Shuster:

On August 27, 2018, the Office of Inspector General (IG) for the General Services Administration (GSA) released a report that reviewed GSA's decision-making process for the revised FBI consolidated headquarters project.  That report, titled “Review of GSA’s Revised Plan for the Federal Bureau of Investigation Headquarters Consolidation Project”, found that GSA intentionally misled Congress about White House interference in the decision to cancel a plan to relocate the FBI headquarters. In addition, the IG found that GSA misrepresented the costs associated with canceling the long-planned relocation of the FBI headquarters. 

The findings of the GSA IG’s report are very troubling.  As a result, I am writing to formally request that the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hold an oversight hearing as soon as possible to examine them.  As you know, our Committee has jurisdiction over real property controlled by the GSA Public Building Service.  We should hear from the Administrator of GSA why she did not answer a direct question from a Member of Congress on whether the White House was involved in the radical changes to the housing plan for FBI headquarters. 

The GSA IG found that the Administrator of GSA intentionally misled Congress about the role of White House officials in the decision-making process about the project.  President Trump still receives profits from the Trump Organization and any private development of the J. Edgar Hoover Building (Hoover Building) where the FBI is currently located could directly negatively impact the profitability of the Trump Organization’s Trump International Hotel located across the street from the Hoover Building.  Given this conflict of interest, the involvement of the White House in this real estate matter warrants further scrutiny by the Committee to assure the public that the FBI and GSA are making real estate decisions that are in the best interests of American taxpayers not the Trump Organization. 

Additionally, the GSA IG found that GSA presented Congress a cost comparison projecting that razing and rebuilding at the Hoover Building site would be less costly than relocating the headquarters to a suburban location.  The GSA IG reported that revised plan was not a true representation of the costs of the project, and the suburban location plan was significantly less expensive.  Not only would the revised plan house 2,300 fewer FBI employees, the GSA IG found that GSA did not include costs of up to $516 million for the raze and rebuild plan.  The GSA IG also found that the GSA and FBI have not developed a plan of how to construct an Interagency Security Committee Level V facility--the highest-level secure facility—in downtown Washington, D.C.

We should hear from the Administrator of GSA and relevant officials of the FBI on why GSA and FBI have adopted a plan for a new FBI facility that involves spending more money to house fewer employees in a less secure location.   

I look forward to working with you on this issue.

                                                            Sincerely,

                                                

            PETER DeFAZIO                                          DINA TITUS
            Ranking Member                                           Ranking Member
                                                                                   Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management