The Trump administration is at risk of wasting some of the billions of dollars it wants to spend on the US-Mexico border wall, according to a watchdog report released Monday.
The Government Accountability Office concluded that the Department of Homeland Security has not conducted a full analysis of the costs of building the wall. Department officials have also not properly documented their plans for building a portion of wall in the San Diego area.
Because of the shortfalls, “DHS 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,” GAO wrote.
The report also said DHS does not consider costs when deciding where to build. That means it “does not have complete information to determine whether it is using its limited resources in the most cost-effective manner.”
Jim Crumpacker, a DHS official, wrote in response to the report the department disagrees it has not properly followed policy.
“It is misleading and inaccurate for GAO to say that progress is not being documented or to imply that progress is not being tracked,” Crumpacker wrote.
Katie Waldman, a DHS spokeswoman, added in a statement to CNN: “Walls have proven to be extremely effective at deterring illegal entries and the smuggling of illicit drugs into the United States.”
She said the department’s analyses of wall locations began with “an operational assessment of priorities including current risks and threats,” and later “factored in cost.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement that the administration is “moving too fast” and “has no clue what it is doing.”
“The Trump Administration, fixated on campaign promises no matter the cost or consequences, is rushing the construction of the President’s completely unnecessary border ‘wall,’” Thompson said.
A non-public version of the report released on Monday contained “information that DHS deemed sensitive,” because it would reveal law enforcement information or proprietary details of the contracting process, according to GAO.