Home News Testimony Proposal for a New Consolidated FBI Headquarters Building
  • Kevin Perkins
  • Associate Deputy Director
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Statement Before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management
  • Washington, D.C.
  • March 13, 2013

Chairman Barletta, Ranking Member Holmes-Norton, and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) need for a new consolidated FBI Headquarters building in the Washington, D.C. area. I am pleased to appear before the committee with my colleague from the General Services Administration (GSA), Dorothy Robyn.

The FBI has occupied the J. Edgar Hoover (JEH) building on Pennsylvania Avenue since its completion in 1974. When the FBI first moved into the building, we were primarily a law enforcement organization. At that time, in addition to office space, the building housed a crime lab and was used to maintain thousands of files and paper records.

Since then, and particularly since 2001, our mission and organization have grown in response to evolving threats. There has been significant growth in the Counterterrorism Division as well as the creation of the National Security Branch, Directorate of Intelligence, Cyber Division, and Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate. In support of the FBI’s expanded mission, we have worked to ensure that our infrastructure can continue to support FBI functions. This has required an increase in information technology personnel and a Resource Planning Office, as well as significant growth in our Security Division, Human Resources Division, Facilities and Logistics Services Division, and Office of the General Counsel.

The FBI has adapted the use of the JEH building over time to increase efficiency—the crime lab is now at Quantico, our paper records are housed elsewhere, we instituted an electronic system of record in July 2012, and we have converted non-personnel and equipment-intensive spaces into office space to accommodate more employees. However, despite these efforts, the FBI’s current Headquarters housing is obsolete, inefficient, and expensive.

In the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill, Congress directed the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the JEH building and associated FBI Headquarters offsite locations in light of its concerns about the security posture of the JEH building and its inability to house the current FBI Headquarters workforce. In November 2011, GAO issued a public report that identified both security and design deficiencies with the existing facility. Furthermore, in response to issues raised in connection with the GAO review, the FBI conducted a security assessment in 2011 that documented threats and analyzed building security requirements consistent with Interagency Security Committee (ISC) security standards. These reviews demonstrate that a new consolidated FBI Headquarters facility is urgently needed, and we view this as one of our highest priorities for the foreseeable future. We are committed to working with Congress and our partners at GSA to explore options for a new facility.

The FBI currently has over 10,000 headquarters staff in multiple locations throughout the National Capitol Region. In fact, the JEH building houses just over half of our Headquarters staff. The dispersal of employees has created significant challenges with regard to effectively managing the Bureau’s 27 Headquarters divisions and offices, facilitating organizational change, and sharing information and collaboration across operational and administrative functions. It is our hope that consolidating FBI Headquarters operations will improve information sharing and collaboration and eliminate redundancy.

The design of the JEH building presents a challenge to staff collaboration and information sharing. The compartmentalized structure of the building confounds an agile workforce; there is limited ability to realign organizational elements and adjust staffing to address shifts in our mission and changes in the threats we are addressing. We believe it is both time consuming and costly when many organizational elements involved are housed in different locations.

The FBI has evaluated its mission and determined that not all elements of FBI Headquarters must be consolidated. Certain FBI divisions engage in less frequent direct coordination with other FBI Headquarters elements and others in the D.C. law enforcement and intelligence communities. Among these divisions are the Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Laboratory Division, Training Division, Operational Technology Division, Records Management Division, and Hazardous Devices School.

The FBI conducted an extensive assessment of the current JEH building and other Headquarters offsite locations and determined the physical security to be inadequate based upon current ISC and FBI standards. In short, the FBI Headquarters building should be housed in a facility meeting the highest level of protection as designated by the ISC. This standard of protection is reserved for agencies with the highest level of risk related to mission functions critical to national security or continuation of government. Simply put, current conditions of the JEH building do not provide an appropriate level of protection against threats.

The FBI has implemented some countermeasures at the JEH building to improve the security of the facility, but those efforts are not a substitution for relocating FBI Headquarters employees to a location that affords the ability to provide true security in accordance with ISC standards.

Working with our partners at GSA, we have proposed locating a new Headquarters within the National Capital Region. Generally, the site should be served by mass transit, have adequate surrounding highway infrastructure, and be in substantial conformance with local land use plans. Several strategies have been proposed by various parties and, as the committee knows, at the end of 2012, GSA issued a request for information seeking ideas from the development community for exchanging the current JEH facility for a new consolidated FBI Headquarters. We will continue to work with GSA and with Congress in order to identify and implement a solution that meets the FBI’s needs now and in the future.

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