- The Department of the Army has issued pre-bid notices for multiple award task order contracts (MATOCs, here and here) for U.S.-Mexico border wall construction, maintenance and repair work in California (San Diego, El Centro), Arizona (Yuma, Tucson) and Texas (Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, Del Rio, Big Bend, El Paso).
- The Texas MATOC work ranges in value from $2,000 to $350 million and has a cap of $5 billion. Awards from $2,000 to a maximum of $25 million are set aside for small businesses, and unrestricted awards range from more than $25 million to $350 million. The Army plans to award 10 contracts, split evenly between small businesses and unrestricted bidders. Work will include new construction, repairs and alterations to fences, walls, roads, lighting, gates and drainage improvements. Work under the combined California/Arizona MATOC includes many of the same items as in the Texas contracts and has the same funding and set-aside guidelines.
- The Army expects to issue the official solicitation May 23, with proposals due Aug. 15. Bids will be evaluated in a two-phase process. The first phase will consider each bidder's experience, technical approach, small business participation and past performance, in that order. The second phase will consider technical proposals from selected companies and each one's construction approach, summary schedule and bid price.
Previous border wall solicitations have come from the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. However, the recent Army solicitation is an indication that President Donald Trump's administration is attempting to bypass Congress, which has been loath to fund the wall. The Army has deep pockets, but by seeking that route of financing, the White House may risk the possibility of legal challenges and significant pushback from federal lawmakers.
The border wall project already has been plagued with lawsuits from environmentalists who have bristled at the administration's insistence that it is exempt from the regulations to which all other developers must adhere.
Contractors have also come under fire from cities around the country that have said they will not do business with any company that even bids on the border wall. In February, Austin, Texas, officials voted to bar contractors from being awarded city projects if they work on the border-wall expansion. The new regulation would not apply to those companies that have worked on past wall projects.
Last month, Los Angeles took the latest swipe at border wall contractors by voting to require them to disclose that relationship. The new regulation applies to those companies that have done work on or submitted bids or proposals for any U.S.-Mexico barrier.