DHS Goes Shopping for a Border Wall Strategy

Published: March 09, 2017

DHSPresident Trump

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is looking help from industry in formulating a long-term strategy for building a wall on our southwest border.

Progress continues on President Trump’s plans to build a wall on the U.S.’s southern border with Mexico. Last week I highlighted the release of a presolicitation notice for the procurement of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the U.S. border with Mexico by DHS’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

This latest opportunity is a Sources Sought Notice seeking for a long-term strategy for a physical infrastructure, known as the "wall" – a complete physical barrier – along the southwest land border of the United States. (GovWinIQ subscribers may keep up-to-date on all the details by tagging Opportunity ID 151795 in the GovWin IQ database.)

This new notice notes that participation in the prototype presolicitation opportunity or any related procurement does not preclude companies from participating in the new strategy requirement and vice versa. The prototype opportunity focuses on a near term effort to identify design options, some of which could inform the strategy and requirements for the actual wall.

These and related efforts are based upon January’s Executive Order No. 13767: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, with DHS’s Fact Sheet on the Executive Order outlining their implementation plans.

What’s in a “Strategy?”

DHS is asking for white papers from companies, nonprofits, educational institutions, and others with innovative ideas to design, finance and complete construction of the wall and addressing the following:

  • Models for financing, constructing and maintaining the wall
  • Multi- or dual-use functions for the wall and/or wall corridor
  • Ways to determine the best type of wall for each section of the Southwest Border, given the diversity of settings and trade-offs
  • Technology that could be incorporated into the wall to enhance border security and agent safety, like sensors, cameras, access roads, brush removal, etc.
  • Possible business or contract terms and conditions that would optimize risk avoidance
  • How to bring economic benefit and jobs from the effort, in cooperation with DHS

Funding the Wall

While the potential contract value(s) of the above opportunities are yet-to-be-determined, possible budget numbers for DHS and the wall are beginning to trickle out. That said, there is quite a bit of variance at this point, depending on the source. Each citing internal DHS budget documents, Politico and the Washington Post have each reported that the border wall will be get $1.4B and $2.9B respectively. Assuming that is yearly funding, it still does not approach the total $21.6 billion that Reuters has reported as the overall cost of building the finished wall, with all its elements over three years and three phases. Further, while the overall DHS budget is expected to grow, agencies such as USCG, TSA and FEMA are expected to decrease, in part to help pay for the wall.