Speed Reads

a wall, but why?

The GAO hasn't figured out how to accurately measure what border walls accomplish

A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveals the federal government has not been able to determine how to accurately measure what a wall on the southern U.S. border — the very wall President Trump says will begin construction shortly — will or will not accomplish.

As the report notes, Customs and Border Protection "collects data that could be useful to assessing the contributions of border fencing to border security operations," but it "cannot measure the contribution ... because it has not developed metrics for this assessment." CPB was in the process of figuring out how to make this measurement in 2013, but the metric development process was suspended due to funding cuts from sequestration.

Even with restored funding, the GAO report adds, "developing metrics for a single element" of U.S. border security efforts is "challenging" because it is difficult to parse which results are due to digital surveillance, the work of border patrol agents, or the segments of the border wall that already block the more accessible areas of the U.S.-Mexico border. The metric must also account for a complex array of data, including information "on apprehensions, turn backs, got aways, and drive throughs, and border fencing, by type and design."

CPB endorsed the GAO recommendation that a reliable metric be developed to effectively allocate border patrol funding.