Dept. of Homeland Security to announce vendors for border wall prototypes

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WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security will announce Thursday which vendors have been selected to build some protoypes for President Donald Trump’s promised US-Mexico border wall, a step forward for the project after months of delays.

The announcement comes after the Government Accountability Office on Friday dismissed a protest filed on the contract awards that had delayed the projects, wrapping early a process that could have pushed the delay into November. DHS had originally targeted June for the beginning of construction, but the process had dragged further into the summer as the contracts were decided.

Customs and Border Protection will announce the top designs for a concrete wall that will be built along the San Diego border at 4 p.m. ET. There were two requests for proposals: a 30-foot high concrete wall design and then any other alternatives. The latter will be announced at a later date, CBP said.

CBP has said it anticipates building four to eight prototypes.

In late July, CBP’s legislative affairs office sent out a memo, obtained by CNN, that two companies that were not selected to be finalists — who then were asked to submit more detailed proposals — filed a total of four protests of the process. While two of the protests, from WNIS, were dismissed, two from Penna Group were put under review by GAO.

On Friday, in an announcement of the dismissal of the protest, CBP did note that once contracts are awarded, companies will have another opportunity to protest, which could add further delays. Nevertheless, CBP said “we are confident in our processes, and we will proceed deliberately, to ensure compliance with the law.”

The prototypes will “help us create a ‘design standard’ for operational walls,” CBP said. “The new designs would be added to our menu of existing designs, and allow us to tailor a specific wall design to the unique demands of individual areas of the border.”

The money for the process came from $20 million that Congress authorized the Department of Homeland Security to pull from other places in the budget earlier this year. Congress has not yet authorized any further money to actually build new miles of wall, though Trump has issued a threat to shut down the government if they don’t do so this year.