The Need for a Consolidated FBI Headquarters Building
Statement for the Record
Good morning Chairman Barletta, Ranking Member Carson, and members of the subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the need for a new consolidated Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Headquarters building in the Washington, D.C. area. I am pleased to appear before the subcommittee with my colleagues from the General Services Administration and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
As the committee is aware, the FBI has occupied the J. Edgar Hoover building since 1974. Since that time, the mission of the FBI has evolved, but the building itself has not kept pace. More than half of the FBI Headquarters workforce is dispersed in 13 leased locations across the National Capital Region because the current facility cannot accommodate the volume of personnel or the technical capability required to sustain operations. This makes it extremely 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; from sophisticated cyber-based attacks to Internet-facilitated sexual exploitation of children; from violent gangs and criminal organizations to public corruption and corporate fraud. As an organization, we must be able to stay current with constantly changing and new 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 breadth 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. A key challenge inhibiting our ability to address current and future threats is the lack of a headquarters facility that fully fosters collaboration, intelligence sharing, and is dynamic, enabling special agents, intelligence analysts, and other professional staff to combat evolving threats as they arise. Simply put, the 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, it cannot be retrofitted to meet mission needs—walls cannot simply be deconstructed or erected, as the infrastructure cannot support such changes. In addition, key components of the building’s infrastructure have reached the end of their useful life. It is estimated that it would cost several hundred million dollars to repair or replace these components as well as renovate key aspects of the current facility. Security also remains a key challenge. The J. Edgar Hoover building does not meet Interagency Security Committee standards for an Intelligence Community-grade building. The building also lacks the resiliency necessary should a minor or catastrophic event occur.
The FBI understands the increasing costs of federal office space, as it leases 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. In addition, 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. In the new headquarters effort alone, we anticipate reducing the total square footage by 800,000 rentable square feet. In addition, simply by consolidating the leased locations in the National Capital Region and the J. Edgar Hoover Building into a new Headquarters building, the Government will save tens of millions in annual lease payments.
In summary, the J. Edgar Hoover building is incompatible with what the United States expects of the FBI. To protect this nation from the rapidly developing, evolving threats we face today, the FBI needs an environment in which its highly trained, skilled workforce can collaborate across divisions and programs to fashion solutions that mitigate today’s threats. Our goal is to have built a fully consolidated, secure, resilient intelligence community-worthy facility. But even more than that, what we need is a facility capable of meeting the increased demands of the nation’s premier intelligence and law enforcement organization for the future 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.
Chairman Barletta, Ranking Member Carson, 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.