The process by which federal officials chose to build the FBI’s new headquarters in Greenbelt, Maryland, came under further scrutiny at a House Oversight Committee meeting.
Lawmakers on the committee pressed Robin Carnahan, who serves as administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), on why a previous plan to build in Virginia was jettisoned.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the proposed FBI headquarters has been a point of contention with House Republicans on the committee who believe the agency has been exhibiting and acting on political bias over the last several years. The tension has been amplified by issues surrounding the Hunter Biden investigation and potentially illegal data searches on American citizens by the FBI.
Some House members proposed cutting the FBI’s budget, or that of the Department of Justice, to rein in some of the alleged abuses conducted by the federal law enforcement agency. A new headquarters building was frequently brought up as a possible pressure point.
During Tuesday’s House Oversight Committee meeting, some Democrats took aim at the project and the propriety surrounding it, suggesting that special interests exercised influence through federal employees to determine where the building would be built.
“You really risk damaging the credibility of [GSA] and its sense of fairness and lack of political interference in decision-making. I think there’s a lot at risk here,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), who claimed a political appointee who was no longer employed by GSA overturned a panel decision that slated a site in Virginia, according to Roll Call.
“Because of her — I will say, in my opinion arbitrary — overturn of their findings, you ended up picking one side over the other, and that raises serious questions about the process,” he said.
The employee in question was Nina Albert, who used to work for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority before moving to the GSA. Some lawmakers claimed she overrode the panel and picked Greenbelt, Maryland because the land of the proposed site was owned by the transit authority.
“We were aware of her former employer at the time she was hired as the top public building official and real estate expert,” Carnahan said, WBAL News Radio reported.
She went on to defend the process, claiming that everything was above board.
“We ran a fair and transparent process,” Carnahan said. “That was my directive to our team, and we did that in the extreme.”
Still, some lawmakers on the committee remained concerned over the matter.
“The decision implicates hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars and economic impact for the surrounding community,” said Rep. James R. Comer (R-KY), per Roll Call.
The committee ended up requesting an investigation by the solicitor general of the GSA to look into the situation and site selection process.