U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contractors continue border barrier construction operations in New Mexico on Nov. 22, 2019. (James Yocum/Task Force Barrier)

House Chairman Asks DoD IG to Probe Border Barrier Contract Award

House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Ga.) asked the Defense Department’s inspector general to review a $400 million border barrier construction contract award to a vocal supporter of President Trump.

The DoD announced Monday that Fisher Sand and Gravel Co., of Dickinson, N.D., won the Army Corps of Engineers firm-fixed-price contract to design and build border infrastructure along the southern perimeter of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Yuma County, Arizona. Five bids were solicited with three bids received. The estimated completion date is Dec. 30, 2020.

The Washington Post reported that, as Trump urged that Fisher receive the contract, military officials raised concerns that the company did not meet the contract standards.

“Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. had not been awarded a construction contract prior to December 2, as its proposals reportedly did not meet the operational requirements of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and its prototype project came in late and over budget,” Thompson wrote in a letter to the IG.  “Nevertheless, President Trump has personally repeatedly urged USACE to award construction contracts to Fisher Sand and Gravel Co.  Jared Kushner, whom President Trump recently named as the White House lead for border construction projects, has also reportedly supported the company’s selection.  Moreover, Department of Homeland Security officials—including acting Secretary Chad Wolf—toured a private border barrier being constructed by Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. just over a week before USACE awarded the $400 million construction contract.”

“These actions raise concerns about the possibility of inappropriate influence on USACE’s contracting decision,” the chairman added. “Therefore, I am requesting that you review the award of this contract to ensure that the bid submitted by Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. met the solicitation standards and that USACE made the award in accordance with federal procurement law and regulations.”

The company said in a statement that it is “excited to show our high quality work and this project gives us an opportunity to demonstrate the caliber of work our team has delivered to our customers for six decades, while helping to secure our southern border.”

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