WASTE WATCHInternet Routers
from Eyewitness News Online
February 10, 2013
It's a controversy that has been brewing for quite some time and now lawmakers want answers.
Tens of millions of dollars were spent on broadband internet routers for West Virginia agencies, but the question is did the state overspend or is the massive price tag justified?
Did the state take the right route on routers?
Sunday afternoon, the House of Delegates heard a report from Legislative Auditor Aaron Allred on the purchase of routers throughout the state. A total of $24 million was spent. In some cases, a $40 router is being replaced with a $20,000 router.
Do you think this is a waste of tax payer's dollars?
“To some degree, absolutely,” said Berkeley County Delegate Larry Faircloth. “I think it should've been more in-depth to try and save more money, I would've loved to have been the salesman that sold it."
That salesman? Cisco systems, Inc.
Under former Governor Joe Manchin's administration, state officials arranged to buy the high-capacity Cisco routers with federal stimulus funds in 2010.
“There are a lot of questions as to why some of the routers aren't being used. What did they base it off?” asked Faircloth. “Why was secondary bidding put into play, and why only one company deemed to get the bidding, which was Cisco. Why only Cisco?”
"The process was open and transparent and everyone had the opportunity to be qualified and pre-bid on it," said Rob Alsop, chief of staff for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
Alsop says the 24 million dollar deal is helping expand internet access by creating high-speed hubs at schools, libraries and other community institutions. And should be looked at as an investment.
“No one knew what an iPad was 6 or 7 years ago. I think they're trying to be visionary. We lack on broadband,” Alsop said.
Programmer and routing specialist Stephanie Heck replied on Facebook, "These routers would be massive overkill in a grade school or public library where a $200 router if correctly configured could do the job. This is digital overkill and waste of public funds on a colossal scale.”
“Is every penny justified? If you look at the discount we received. I think we'll do a lot of good for West Virginia,” Alsop said.
The U.S. Commerce Department's inspector general criticized West Virginia officials last month for their handling of the stimulus spending.
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