WASHINGTON, DC – As federal resources are desperately needed to combat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bolster public health, and assist small businesses, the Trump Administration is awarding a $569 million no-bid contract to an apparently politically-connected, private contractor to build 17.17 miles of border wall in two separate locations along California’s southern border with Mexico. At an above market rate.

The $569 million border wall contract was awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to BFBC, an affiliate of Barnard Construction.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, says the awarding of the contract raises troubling questions.  Reed has secured agreement from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to add this contract to the ongoing-GAO investigation Senator Reed demanded for all border-related construction to ensure all contracting and procurement laws were followed without any favoritism.

Citing news reports that the $33.1 million cost per mile of the proposed wall is 65% higher than the already high $20 million per mile average that the Trump Administration is paying other contractors, Senator Reed is also seeking details of how the private contractor calculated the costs for the work.

“The contracting process should be merit-based and free from political influence and corruption.  Equally important is the fact that at a time when the Trump Administration should be mobilizing resources, including the Army Corps of Engineers, to help effectively combat coronavirus and save lives, the Trump Administration is instead directing half a billion dollars to a no-bid contract to build an ineffective wall.  This raises troubling questions about the timing of this contract and how it was given to this private contractor.  I have already asked the GAO to investigate,” said Reed, who sent a letter last December asking GAO to review all 284 and 2808 border wall contracts. 

The study is still ongoing and this new contract will be included in the final review.