President Donald Trump promised to build a border wall to prevent entry of unwanted people from across the Mexico border. Work has already been taken up but Government Accountability Office (GAO) feels that the Department of Homeland Security has gone ahead with the work without conducting a detailed study of various elements of the cost.

A CNN report talks about the watchdog. It has pointed out that DHS has carried out insufficient homework due to which the loss could be in billions of dollars. The GAO has also noted shortfalls. One of these is that officials have not properly documented their plans to build a portion of the wall in the San Diego area.

The net result will mean an increase in cost and probable delay in completion of the work.

Finance for the Mexico border wall

The watchdog has noted that the Department of Homeland Security does not appear to have considered every possible aspect while drawing up the cost estimates. The GAO interprets this as a result of lack of information. In its opinion, DHS "does not have complete information to determine whether it is using its limited resources in the most cost-effective manner." However, DHS has disagreed with this.

One of its officials has said that progress of work is being documented and monitored.

Katie Waldman, a DHS spokeswoman, added that walls have proved useful to check not only illegal entry of people into the country but also the smuggling of illicit drugs. The general perception is that a permanent US-Mexico border wall will deter entry of unauthorized people from Mexico.

Many of them are illegal immigrants in search of a better life or people involved in smuggling drugs. Walls or fencing do exist in some areas but there are also gaps like bodies of water or hilly terrain and these are used as entry points.

Controversy over the border wall

According to AZ Central, the 49-page report of the GAO has now been published.

It observed that initially, 17 priority areas were identified by the authorities for constructing the border wall. An estimate of $18 billion was submitted for the cost for building 722 miles of barriers in those locations. At present, there are 654 miles of fencing on the border. The breakdown is 354 miles of pedestrian fencing and 300 miles of vehicle fencing.

The watchdog said that the cost will vary depending on a number of factors like the topography and the price of land. This is because the wall will pass through Texas where much of the land is in private hands. The GAO is believed to have reviewed documents and consulted with federal officials from October 2017 to June 2018 to prepare the report.