KOLD INVESTIGATES: GAO report on border wall construction

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Customs and Border Protection is missing some importation information as it moves forward with plans to expand the border wall in parts of the United States, according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The report recommends the Commissioners of CBP to consider cost in its assessment of locations needing a barrier and the Under Secretary of Management to document requirements for the secondary barrier planned in the San Diego Sector.

The initial spots for the wall were selected quickly in March 2017 because of the change in administration its prioritization on construction, according to the report. Areas in the San Diego and Rio Grande Valley sectors were already owned by the government, so any delays from acquiring the land could be avoided.

By the summer of 2017, a method for prioritizing nearly 200 segments along the border was created. Those segments were clumped into 33 groups and assessed in characteristics like known flow of illegal traffic and environmental factors, according to the report.

A review board of Border Patrol experts evaluated the findings and determined that the areas already selected for the upcoming fiscal year were, in fact, the best places for the construction.

The GAO report found those four locations were not the top ones in the methodology. El Centro, Yuma and Laredo had the highest prioritization, respectively.

Border Patrol leadership claimed that priority list was just a jumping off point for the review board to discuss and make the ultimate recommendations, according to the report.

It stated that Border Patrol plans to refine the methodology and the priorities will likely changes as illegal traffic patterns fluctuate.

Of all the factors considered in this process, the GAO found no mention of the cost specific to locations where these walls would be built, because each could require more or less money depending on the distance and geographical layout.

"Without assessing costs as part of the prioritization process, CBP does not have complete information to know whether it is prioritizing locations that will use its limited resources in the most cost-effective manner," the report stated.

The report clarified that it doesn't recommend a budget for the process, but a better understanding of the costs should be known before committing resources to construction.

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A response from Homeland Security stated that the department concurred with both recommendations from GAO.

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