December 22, 2011
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a division of the Department of Homeland Security, has spent about $9.8 million to store $44 million in steel that it bought but did not use to build fence along the U.S,-Mexico border, according to a report from the DHS Inspector General.
CPB has in storage about 27,000 tons of “extra steel” that could be used to extend the estimated 650 miles of fencing mandated by Congress along the approximately 2,000-mile long southwest border, according to the IG.
An IG report released in November notes that in January 2008, the CBP — a DHS component — awarded an unnamed “prime contractor” a “Supply and Supply Chain Management (SSCM) task order” for storing and purchasing steel to support the construction of fence along hundreds of miles of the U.S.-Mexico border by Dec. 31, 2008 as part of the Secure Border Initiative (SBI) that was mandated by Congress.
Although the report does not name the prime contractor who was awarded the SSCM task order, the CBP reported that it “teamed up with The Boeing Company” of Chicago, Ill. to “support and facilitate the successful execution” of all fence building operations under the SSCM project mentioned in the IG report.
The steel purchased under the task order was used to build about 299 miles of the estimated 651 miles of fence that have been erected so far along the U.S.-Mexico border as requested by Congress. Most of the fence is single-layered, including 352 miles of fence aimed at preventing people from crossing the border illegally, known as a primary pedestrian fence, and 299 miles of fence aimed at preventing vehicle crossings known as a vehicle fence.
After using about 117,000 tons of steel to build the 299 miles of fence from a total of 145,000 tons purchased under the task order, “27,557 tons of extra steel, with a value of about $44 million, remained in storage,” said the DHS IG report.
“CBP did not efficiently plan the purchase and storage of steel for the SSCM task order,” reported the DHS IG, later adding, “as a result, 27,557 tons of extra steel, with a value of about $44 million, remained in storage at the end of the task order. Further, CBP incurred $9.8 million in additional storage costs because it did not move the remaining steel to a government facility for more than 2 years after the original storage contract expired.”
According to the IG, “the original storage contract for the SSCM task order covered the period from April to December 2008” and “instead of moving the extra steel to a cost-efficient location, CBP extended the original contract and awarded a supplemental storage contract.”
CBP ended up spending $9,753,010 in storage fees between January 2009 and March 2011 after making revisions to the original contract.