The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works held a hearing Wednesday morning to discuss that project with representatives of the FBI Finance Division and the General Services Administration (GSA) Public Buildings Service.
“In the revised plan, there is a plan if consolidation occurs downtown, the CJIS Center in Clarksburg would have several hundred jobs moving into West Virginia,” U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said during the hearing. “That would be an important development for me, obviously, as that facility continues to grow and become more professional and more highly technological. We would welcome that prospect of having those employees move out into West Virginia, as many have moved there before and have realized the wild and wonderful live is a pretty good one out in West Virginia.”
The FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project began as a means to replace the J. Edgar Hoover (JEH) building that the FBI has occupied since 1974.
Richard L. Haley II, assistant director of the FBI’s Finance, Facilities and Real Property Division, said while the mission of the FBI has evolved, the building itself has not kept pace and is instead 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,” Haley said. “As an organization, we must be able to stay current with constantly changing technologies that make our jobs both easier and harder.
“Simply put, the existing J. Edgar Hoover building is obsolete, inefficient, and faces a number of security vulnerabilities,” he said.
Thus the current J. Edgar Hoover building would be demolished and the construction of a new building would occur on the same site.
During the construction phase, FBI employees would relocate to “swing space,” such as the Clarksburg facility while the existing facility is under construction.
In total, the FBI will be moving more than 2,500 positions — both employees and contractors — to its owned facilities across the nation, which includes not only Clarksburg but also 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,” Haley said. “The FBI already has a substantial presence in each of these communities.”
The FBI previously proposed a procurement that would have moved forward with constructing a new suburban facility, but upon a review of real estate costs and footprints, it was decided that demolition and reconstruction would be less costly.
Together, the FBI and GSA began to review and seriously consider the possibility of staying at the current location, determining multiple advantages to doing so, including the property’s proximity other departmental headquarters, inspection facilities, utility plants, Metro lines and road and bus networks.
Thus, a plan to rebuild on the site began. As part of the evaluation, three options were considered: a phased renovation of the existing building, a renovation of a fully vacant facility or a demolition of the current facility and construction of a new building on the site.
“A phase renovation, we determined, would take 15 years, cost more money and deliver you a less successful product than demolishing and rebuilding a new structure,” said Daniel Mathews, commissioner of the GSA’s Public Buildings Service. “New construction allows us to build a facility that can house 8,300 people, instead of a smaller number in a renovated facility. In addition, new construction can mitigate security threats more effectively with tailored designs, newer materials and current construction techniques.”
Overall, Mathews said, the demolition-rebuild allows for the facility to be built faster, cheaper and with less risk than a renovation.
However, the demolition-rebuild is estimated to cost $3.3 billion and require 6 years to occupancy, which makes the relocation of employees to facilities such as Clarksburg’s CJIS vital.
“These other sites that we have identified have been part of our physical portfolio for many years, and while the way forward includes enhancing the use of these sites, these sites are not new to the FBI,” Haley said. “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.”
Posted by Brittany Murray, AJR NEWS NETWORK