New Plan for FBI Headquarters Project
Good morning Chairman Barrasso, Ranking Member Carper, and members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the need for a new Federal Bureau of Investigation Headquarters building. I am pleased to appear before the committee with my colleague from the General Services Administration.
As the committee is aware, the FBI has occupied the J. Edgar Hoover (JEH) building since 1974. Since that time, the mission of the FBI has evolved, but the building itself has not kept pace. The building is falling apart as evidenced by crumbling facades and deteriorating infrastructure. This makes it difficult to address rapidly developing threats and collaborate across divisions and programs. Our nation continues to face a multitude of serious and evolving threats ranging from homegrown violent extremists to hostile foreign intelligence services and operatives, sophisticated cyber-based attacks to Internet-facilitated sexual exploitation of children, violent gangs and criminal organizations to public corruption and corporate fraud. As an organization, we must be able to stay current with constantly changing technologies that make our jobs both easier and harder. Our adversaries—terrorists, foreign intelligence services, and criminals—take advantage of modern technology, including the Internet and social media, to facilitate illegal activities, recruit followers, encourage terrorist attacks and other illicit actions, and to disperse information on building improvised explosive devices and other means to attack the U.S. Keeping pace with these threats is a significant challenge for the FBI. The scale of these threats and challenges are as complex now as at any time in our history, and the consequences of not responding to and countering threats and challenges have never been greater. Fighting the current threat, and preparing for the future wave of threats, requires cutting-edge technology and the foundation for intelligence to flow in and out of the FBI seamlessly. Simply put, the existing J. Edgar Hoover building is obsolete, inefficient, and faces a number of security vulnerabilities.
Aside from the operational shortfalls in the current facility, we also face infrastructure limitations. Because of the manner in which the building was constructed, retrofit efforts are costly, time-consuming, and extremely disruptive. In addition, key components of the building’s infrastructure have reached the end of their useful life. Security also remains a crucial challenge. Adding modern protection for blast, chemical and biological radiation, RF shielding, intrusion detection, and ballistic protection to the existing J. Edgar Hoover building will not meet Interagency Security Committee standards. The building also lacks the resiliency necessary should a minor or catastrophic event occur.
That said, the FBI has worked closely with our colleagues at GSA over the past decade to design a solution that meets the needs of the Bureau, while recognizing the considerable challenges of funding such a large and complex project. While we were encouraged that the previous procurement process resulted in considerable interest by the private sector to help secure a new Headquarters facility, it had a shelf life and without full funding, FBI and GSA determined that continuing to move forward with this procurement would have put the government at risk for project cost escalations and resulted in a devaluation of the Hoover property. For these reasons, FBI and GSA jointly made the decision to cancel the prior procurement.
The new plan devised is the result of months of work between the FBI and GSA and recommends the demolition of the current J. Edgar Hoover building and the construction of a new building on the same site. Under this approach, FBI employees would relocate to “swing space” while the existing facility is under construction. The report provided to this committee shows that the team explored several acquisition strategies but determined, in light of the recent budget agreements, that federal appropriations would be the optimal funding solution.
The FBI understands the increasing costs of federal office space, as it has more than 350 locations nationwide for its field and satellite offices (through GSA). However, the FBI has made concerted efforts to reduce space requirements by consolidating case files and evidence storage in centralized locations in lower cost areas and minimizing personal workspace and common areas. Also, the FBI is in the process of moving and consolidating its data centers from costly leased locations in downtown areas to owned facilities in locations that have significantly lower costs of power and infrastructure. The FBI is also uniting its improvised explosive device (IEDs) and weapons of mass destruction functions at Redstone Arsenal and is also relocating training and other functions that cannot be located at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia due to space and capacity constraints. Moving forward, we anticipate that a new Headquarters would dramatically reduce the total square footage, and in coordination with the other FBI-owned facilities across the nation, consolidate or eliminate the need for multiple lease locations in the National Capital Region and save tens of millions in annual lease payments.
In line with this plan to maximize space availability at FBI-owned locations, reduce overall costs, and leverage operational efficiencies, the FBI will be moving more than 2,500 positions—both employees and contractors—to its owned facilities across the nation, including Clarksburg, West Virginia; Huntsville, Alabama; Pocatello, Idaho; and Quantico, Virginia. It is anticipated that several hundred positions could be shifted to FBI facilities in Clarksburg, West Virginia, and Pocatello, Idaho, while the remainder would be realigned to Huntsville, Alabama. The FBI already has a substantial presence in each of these communities. The FBI first began operations in Pocatello in 1984 and Clarksburg in 1995. The FBI’s presence at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville dates back to the establishment of the Hazardous Devices School in 1971. The FBI’s long history at these locations suggests that the functions and staff realigned to those locations can be successful in performing mission operations.
In summary, the current J. Edgar Hoover building is an impediment to achieving the operational, organizational, and workforce flexibility required by today’s FBI to perform its national security, criminal investigative, and criminal justice services missions and meet the expectations of the American public. To protect this nation from the rapidly developing and evolving threats we face today, the FBI needs an environment to support the highly trained, skilled workforce. A new building will provide a more suitable support system where employees can collaborate across divisions and programs to fashion solutions that mitigate today’s threats. Our goal is to have built a consolidated, secure, resilient intelligence community-worthy facility. More importantly, relocating to a facility capable of meeting the increased demands of the nation’s premier intelligence and law enforcement organization will enhance the goals of the FBI. This building will address the way we will work for the next 50 or more years. In doing so, we are building the security and safety of this nation by creating an environment where the men and women of the FBI can use their significant skills and abilities to live up to the sacred trust placed in us by the American people: to protect them from harm and uphold the Constitution of the United States.
The need for a facility that meets the mission requirements of the FBI has not abated. This new path will provide the FBI with that facility. On behalf of the current and future FBI workforces that will occupy the new facility, I ask for your support. Chairman Barrasso, Ranking Member Carper, and committee members, I thank you for this opportunity to testify on the new FBI Headquarters project. We appreciate your interest and support. I am happy to answer any questions you might have.