POCATELLO — An expanded FBI facility in Pocatello will fill a vital role toward protecting the nation's security, top bureau officials said during a Monday morning ribbon-cutting ceremony for the additions.
"This building, while located in Pocatello, Idaho, will be the center and epicenter of what we are doing in Washington, D.C.," said Jeffrey Sallet, the FBI's associate executive assistant director of finance and facilities.
The FBI broke ground in October 2017 on the roughly $100 million expansion, which bureau officials have dubbed Gray Wolf.
The FBI had 110 data centers located throughout the country as of 2014 and is in the process of a consolidation effort officials say has already saved in excess of $135 million through improved efficiency. The FBI has phased out 100 of those data centers to date and will ultimately leave just three expanded facilities operational, including the Pocatello center.
The local FBI facility currently has a staff of about 300 workers. The expansion will add sufficient space to employ an additional 250 workers, whose salaries will be set based on the federal GS scale.
Paul Abbate, the FBI's associate deputy director, said staff will be added gradually throughout the next two to five years. He said the bureau has been in regular contact with city officials about new homes being added to a tight local housing supply and local resources to accommodate workers who will be moved to the community or hired to fill new jobs here.
"We certainly need to have accommodations here for people when they move into the area," Abbate said, adding the FBI will approach hiring in "a very measured way so individuals and their families have what they need when they arrive here."
The additions include a 100,000-square-foot new data center and a new 40,000-square-foot office building. The renovated front entrance consists of cobblestone taken from the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C.
Abbate said there were several reasons why the FBI chose to expand in Pocatello, including that there's already a "solid base" with technological infrastructure here.
"We just love the community and the people here, as well," Abbate said. "Really the community has embraced the FBI and the department, and vice-versa."
Pocatello City Councilman Jim Johnston spoke on behalf of the communities of Pocatello and Chubbuck, emphasizing the significant boon to the economy the FBI expansion represents.
"Pocatello loves the FBI and is so proud to be a part of the latest chapter of the FBI's story," Johnston said.
Abbate said the expanded facility will move vast amounts of data and intelligence at all times, helping to produce intelligence products, thwart terrorist activities and result in arrests of criminals.
Sallet described the expanded local center as a 21st century facility with state-of-the-art technology. Sallet believes the crimes of the future will be committed in cyberspace more than anywhere else, and workers in Pocatello will be at the forefront of fighting them.
"We hear the term cyber crime used as a separate category of crime, but more and more cyber is becoming a way to perpetuate a whole host of crimes, just as technology is becoming more integrated into our lives," Sallet said.
Sallet said a myriad of users across the U.S. Department of Justice and the broader law enforcement community will benefit from the work done at the expanded Pocatello facility.
"We must improve, adapt and create capabilities to translate huge amounts of data into actionable information," Sallet said. "This data center is a strategic move into that direction."