Moran Hopes to Delay NSF Procurement Process
Congressman wants to buy time to fend off suitors from Maryland.
The first step to ensuring the National Science Foundation remains in Arlington County is to delay the ongoing procurement process for new space, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran told Patch.
The NSF currently holds two leases for space in adjacent buildings in Ballston. Those leases expire next year, and the General Services Administration has begun the process of accepting bids for a future home. While bids would certainly be accepted to keep the foundation at its current location — or, at least, in Arlington County — the cost of office space here has made other, cheaper locations eager to get in the game.
The GSA, which manages leased federal office space, so far has only received formal bids from locations in Virginia, spokeswoman Mafara Hobson stated in an email on Friday.
But others in the National Capital Region have indicated they are interested, Moran said. Prince George's County has some of the lowest-priced office space in the region that's near a Metro, he said. The GSA generally looks for locations within a half-mile of a Metro station.
"Maryland wants to get it," Moran told Patch on Friday. "And they've offered much lower rent."
Advocates of keeping the NSF in Ballston like to talk about the synergy created by having the foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Office of Naval Research, the Virginia Tech Research Center and the startups and small businesses that work with those agencies within a few blocks of one another.
The idea is that putting a lot of highly educated people with the same general focus in a place where they can interact is more likely to birth innovation.
Moran said he's tried that line.
"Prince George's County says that just proves the point that you have a lot of research firms, and why not spread them around?" Moran said.
Moran said he's trying to delay the procurement process "so that it would be a fully considered decision, before they make a mistake. And relocation would clearly be a big mistake."
Moran's office authored a letter to the GSA last month that stated moving the National Science Foundation out of Arlington would have a "detrimental effect" on the agency's ability to complete its mission.
U.S. Reps. Frank Wolf and Gerry Connolly and U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb also signed the letter.