Legislative auditors slam $24M W.Va. router deal

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm •  Published: February 10, 2013
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Rob Alsop, chief of staff to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, said West Virginia should aim to match and then stay ahead of the constantly changing technology curve.

"It wasn't about the size of the facilities...It was about what those libraries and schools should be able to do over the course of the next decade," Alsop told lawmakers Sunday. "Those routers can do more than what's currently available."

The report recommends that technology officials contact Cisco to negotiate a trade-in of unneeded components in exchange for the parts that would allow the State Police to use the new routers for their phone service. It similarly suggests that officials study the capacity needs of all planned router locations — a step that auditors say officials failed to take before the purchase — and provide findings to lawmakers before this year's regular session ends in April.

While it repeatedly criticizes state officials, the audit also slams Cisco. The tech giant's chief executive, John Chambers, was raised in West Virginia, and Allred said the state has become "overly dependent on Cisco's goodwill."

"The Legislative Auditor believes that the Cisco sales representatives and engineers had a moral responsibility to propose a plan which reasonably complied with Cisco's own engineering standards," the report said. "It is the opinion of the Legislative Auditor that the Cisco representatives showed a wanton indifference to the interests of the public in recommending using $24 million of public funds to purchase 1,164 Cisco model 3945 branch routers."

The U.S. Commerce Department's inspector general criticized West Virginia officials for the stimulus spending last month.

The router deal was part of a plan funded by $126 million in stimulus grants that also aims to fill gaps in the microwave communication system for law enforcement and other first responders, and provide the first-ever broadband connection between the sprawling National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank and West Virginia University.

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Follow Lawrence Messina at http://twitter.com/lmessina



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