FBI HQ Offers Opportunities, Benefits

By: Susan VanEpps

Loudoun County media coverage spiked last week with the announcement that the county had issued an official Request for Information response, detailing eight potential FBI headquarters sites and their advantages. In discussing the project with County Business Development Officer Jim Herbert, he details how the FBI, the nation and local entrepreneurs would benefit from a Loudoun-based FBI headquarters.

While DC-area jurisdictions are competing to house the new two million square foot FBI complex, Herbert sees compelling advantages for Loudoun, and for Loudoun entrepreneurs. Here’s background information you can use to make plans to leverage future business opportunities created by an FBI relocation to Loudoun.

  • Companies. “When you look at the FBI’s procurement, it shows a lot of information/communications technology, computing, software and computer engineering contracts. This kind of activity is where Loudoun County is already very strong,” he says. Herbert adds that 21st century threats are international; requiring global collaboration. “Since 9/11 it’s estimated that over 100 FBI multi-jurisdictional and joint task forces have been formed. Internet access is key to monitoring these threats, and to collaborating globally to address them. Network integration, requiring the capabilities to connect multiple people around the world within a secure environment, uses workforce skills and fiber bandwidth that Loudoun County cyber and federal government contracting companies have been leveraging all along.”
  • Specialized Talent and Assets. The FBI needs top-quality people who already know and can access information/communications technology-monitoring networks overseas. These specialists understand the serious business of cyber networks, data centers and data networking – and, critically, already have security clearances. According to Herbert, the FBI has grown its headcount 25 percent since 9/11 with hiring and consulting, and they depend on private security contractors. He adds that large greenfield sites for build-to-suit offer more economical construction, bringing higher value procurement than redevelopment sites. He adds that in Loudoun, the three big drivers for the FBI – contactors, bandwidth and workforce with security clearances – are all already here. “There is a tremendous confluence with all of these needs with what Loudoun businesses, including small business entrepreneurs, already offer. Information/communications technology is Loudoun’s largest industry cluster, representing 19 percent of Loudoun’s private employment and 21 percent of Loudoun businesses. $4.5 billion in federal government contracts are awarded to Loudoun businesses annually, including $3.6 billion from contracts with Defense/Intelligence, Army, Navy and Air Force; all requiring a significant security-cleared workforce. Consequently, Loudoun’s workforce already includes a sizeable base with these credentials. That’s good for the FBI, good for our businesses, and good for the nation.”
  • Large Greenfield Sites. A new headquarters needs to be sustainable for a long time, says Herbert – obsolete is not an option. The FBI needs to achieve viability and security for the long term. “To be viable for more than 50 years like Langley, or for more than 70 years like the Pentagon, the FBI HQ will need ample space to redevelop and grow,” he explains. “Loudoun has sites up to 300 acres; large greenfield sites can provide the security buffers, the room for spread out, low-rise secure buildings, the overall perimeter security, and the space for integrated campus facilities that other jurisdictions cannot offer.”
  • Specialized Facilities. With space comes room for efficient campus development. For example, Herbert suggests, the FBI could fly in staff from around the world to Washington-Dulles International Airport which is 10 minutes away, and have them work for months at a time, housing them at a custom campus dormitory within a Loudoun headquarters. The campus could also house an international cyber data operations center, and a shooting range, so FBI agents could avoid having to drive to Quantico for the FBI range there. “Loudoun means not shoehorning a headquarters into a compromised site that has to be torn down and redeveloped at the very start,” Herbert says.
  • Access and Location. Because of Dulles Airport, the Dulles Greenway, Routes 7 and 50 and multiple land sites offered within a mile of the future Silver Line Metro stations, Loudoun is the node for facilities needed by the FBI. Herbert notes that these transportation arteries and assets put Loudoun virtually equidistant to the Department of Justice in D.C., the training facility in Quantico, and the FBI facilities in Winchester and Clarksburg, West Virginia. Loudoun is “the hub for the spokes.” Other federal agencies have already considered Loudoun a trusted, successful home, he adds, including offices of the FAA, ICE, DEA, ATF and Homeland Security.

With the RFI submitted, for now it’s a wait-and-respond mode for Herbert and his team. “At this point, we’re still early in the process. We hope by this fall the FBI will analyze the RFI responses, and perhaps move to the next step, which might be a Request for Proposals.”

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