SAN DIEGO – The Trump administration's plans to erect hundreds of miles of border barriers with Mexico fails to adequately consider costs, a congressional watchdog agency said Monday, potentially raising the price and creating delays.
The administration has estimated it will cost $18 billion for 722 miles (1162 kilometers) of barriers but that was based on an average cost per mile. The Government Accountability Office said costs can vary considerably based on the slope and topography, land acquisition costs and other factors.
Without more information, the Department of Homeland Security "faces an increased risk that the Border Wall System Program will cost more than projected, take longer than planned, or not fully perform as expected," the GAO wrote.
Customs and Border Protection, an agency within Homeland Security, "does not have complete information to determine whether it is using limited resources in the most cost-effective manner and does not have important cost information that would help it develop future budget requests," the report continues.
Homeland Security official Jim Crumpacker, in a response included as an appendix to the GAO report, said authorities are "following best practices in evaluating costs, budget, and financial impact of border segments." He said financial costs were considered after an operational assessment of where walls were most needed.
Katie Waldman, a Homeland Security Department spokeswoman, said walls have proven "extremely effective."
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee who requested the report, said, "In moving too fast, they have ignored necessary and established acquisitions protocols and plan to build a multibillion-dollar border wall where their own analysis shows it is not a priority. To be blunt, this Administration has no clue what it is doing and must be held accountable."