The GAO ultimately recommended that the Department of Homeland Security further analyze the costs of the wall.
"GAO recommends that DHS analyze the costs associated with future barrier segments and include that analysis in future planning and document plans for the planned secondary barrier replacement in the San Diego sector. DHS concurred with GAO’s recommendations," the GAO report stated.
According to the report, DHS is at risk of spending significantly more on the Border Wall System Program then initially projected and the timeline for the project could grow exponentially.
"However, by proceeding without key information on cost, acquisition baselines, and the contributions of previous barrier and technology deployments, 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," the report stated.
DHS has not conducted a full cost analysis for the border wall. The GAO stated that without complete information on the border wall funding, U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not know if it is using its "limited resources in the most cost-effective manner."
President Trump signed the executive order for the border wall in January 2017. The order requested that DHS and CBP should begin plans, acquire designs and construct a wall along the United States' southern border.
The CBP budget request in 2018 appropriated the funds for planning and design but only limited financing for construction to previously "deployed fencing designs." CBP did prioritize locations and designs for future barriers but not the cost of building them in those locations which could cause significant cost challenges as construction price can vary with the landscape and ownership of the land.
In other areas that the border wall is expected to be built, plans are still needed for approval. The San Diego portion of the wall plans were not documented by the CBP.
The GAO stated that "without assessing costs, CBP doesn't have complete information for prioritizing barrier deployments in the most cost-effective manner."