General Services Administration

The agency in charge of guarding the border went on a spending spree to build housing for its employees, according to a government audit released earlier this month.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ignored recommendations from the federal government when building homes for border agents in Ajo, Arizona, a remote area with limited housing options, according to the report by the Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General. The audit found $4.6 million in taxpayer money "that could have been put to better use."

According to the report, the agency built two- and three-bedroom homes for employees when a previous internal study had recommended one-bedroom apartments. "CBP designed and built housing that exceeded employee needs," the audit found.

Leading Arizona Republicans have spoken out against the construction projects in the past and reiterated those sentiments Thursday on Twitter.

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Shawn Moran, vice president of the national Border Patrol union, said that while the agency "may have not done the contracting process properly," the housing was necessary. "We have agents that work in Ajo who were commuting over two hours a day so they could have suitable housing for them and their families," he said.

A CBP spokesperson issued a statement saying that the agency approved of the recommendations in the audit, but disagreed with "the apples-to-oranges comparison of project costs to the sales price of existing units in Ajo."

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The spending report comes at a time when both the Obama administration and Republicans in Congress are clamoring for more funding to secure the border. Over the summer, the president requested additional funds to deal with a rise in Central American migrants, but Democrats and Republicans were unable to pass legislation.

The average price for a home in Ajo is $86,500, but CBP paid far more for its housing— nearly $680,000 per house, and about $118,000 per mobile home, according to the audit.

The agency also overspent for the land, paying 19 percent more than the appraised value of the land, the report said.

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Here's a look inside some of the houses:

Credit: General Services Administration

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Credit: General Services Administration

Credit: Homeland Security Office of Inspector General

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Credit: Homeland Security Office of Inspector General

Credit: Homeland Security Office of Inspector General

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Credit: Homeland Security Office of Inspector General

Credit: General Services Administration

1:55 p.m. ET: This post was updated with comment from CBP.

Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.