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Report: Government scrapping search for new FBI headquarters

(Photo, ABC7)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Local media are reporting that the federal government is scrapping a decade-long plan to shutter the FBI's downtown Washington headquarters and relocate it to Maryland or Virginia.

The information was first reported by The Washington Post. The paper's report online Monday says the officials from the General Services Administration, which manages federal real estate, said they "plan to announce the cancellation in a phone call with bidders and in meetings on Capitol Hill on Tuesday." The paper says the officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to disclose the decision before its announcement. The Baltimore Sun also reported the change.

“If reports that the General Services Administration is canceling the plan for the fully consolidated FBI headquarters relocation project are true, this is an extremely alarming development," says Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer. "By canceling the current FBI headquarters relocation procurement process, the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress are putting the safety and security of our country at risk.”

Three finalist sites in Maryland and Virginia were announced in 2014 but the GSA delayed its choice multiple times.

The GSA released an official statement on the FBI Headquarters on Tuesday:

"The General Services Administration (GSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) today announced the decision to cancel the procurement for the new FBI headquarters consolidation project.

GSA and FBI previously have stated that full funding is crucial for the government to make a contract award. The fiscal year 2017 budget request included $1.4 billion for this project; however, the $523 million appropriated in 2017 leaves an $882 million funding gap. Moving forward without full funding puts the government at risk for cost escalations and the potential reduction in value of the J. Edgar Hoover property that developers were to receive as part of this procurement.

The cancellation of the project does not lessen the need for a new FBI headquarters. GSA and FBI will continue to work together to address the space requirements of the FBI."

Prince George’s County Councilman Mel Franklin released the following statement on the decision:

“The Trump Administration’s apparent decision to cancel the replacement and consolidation of the headquarters of our nation’s most important federal investigative agency is damaging to our national security. On the heels of the unjustified firing of former FBI Director James Comey, this is yet another decision that raises questions about the competence of the Trump Administration to protect our nation, especially while the FBI investigates the growing likelihood that the Trump Campaign colluded with the Russian Government to assist in winning the 2016 Presidential Election. Bipartisan officials and experts have highlighted the growing deficiencies and national security risks created by the deteriorating Hoover Building, which can only hold little more than half of the agency’s more than 11,000 employees, with the rest of the agency’s employees scattered among more than a dozen offices in the Washington region. A consolidated, secure FBI headquarters is vital to the agency’s mission of protecting the homeland of our great country, giving our outstanding FBI employees the proper base of operations to defend our nation against terrorism and other threats.”

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