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FBI headquarters decision delayed until next year

A decade into a push for a new headquarters in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, the FBI will have to wait a little longer.

On Monday, the General Services Administration, which is handling the headquarters project, said it would delay selecting a location and builder until March of next year.

Three locations in Greenbelt, Md., Landover, Md., and Springfield, Va., are under consideration for the project and a short list of developers has been selected to compete for the work.

Funding remains a persistent concern however, as construction is likely to cost upwards of $2 billion.

The GSA has committed to trading away the site of the current headquarters, the J. Edgar Hoover Building, to help finance the project as it pursues additional appropriations to foot the full cost.

President Obama sought $1.4 billion in appropriations for the project in his fiscal 2017 budget. If approved by Congress, that money would add to $390 million already set aside for the project, assuaging fears that the Hoover Building would not fetch a high enough price to build a 2.1 million-square-foot secure campus.

“Due to a strong and overwhelmingly positive response from developers to the solicitation [gsa.gov] issued earlier this year, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) now plan to announce the selected site and offeror for the competition in early March 2017,” GSA spokeswoman Renee Kelly said in a statement.

“GSA and FBI are encouraged by the proposals received and are confident that, if Congress provides the resources requested in the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget, we will be able to deliver on our commitment to provide a world class facility for the FBI and a good deal for the taxpayer,” she said.

The delay isn’t likely to please stakeholders in Maryland led by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who has been pushing the GSA to make a selection before her retirement at the end of year and who wants to see the complex built in her state, not Virginia.

Delaying until 2017 also means any decision will take place when a new president is in office, and that could add its own intrigue. Hillary Clinton, for instance, counts Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, D, as a close confidant, and her vice presidential nominee is current Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, D.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Md., issued a statement saying he was “deeply disappointed.”

“The hardworking employees of the FBI deserve a new, consolidated headquarters as soon as possible. Additional delays undermine the FBI’s mission and our national security, as well as employee morale and safety. I will continue to monitor this process to ensure it is fair and stays on schedule, and I strongly oppose any additional delays,” he said.

David S. Iannucci, a top economic development aide to Prince George’s County, Md., Executive Rushern L. Baker III, said that “while we would have preferred that the GSA adhere to its original schedule of the end of the calendar year, the extra time does not change the fact that we believe Prince George’s County has without question the two best sites for the future location of the consolidated FBI headquarters.”

“We will continue to work with the GSA, FBI, state and Congressional officials, and the three bid teams to refine the proposals and build on our already strong program for the Greenbelt and Landover sites,” he added.