Router Audit Gov. Tomblin Reacts To Critics Of Multi-Million Dollar Router Purchase February 18, 2013
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The scrutiny continues over taxpayer dollars spent on broadband Internet routers. Skeptics said poor planning and unnecessary purchases wasted millions.
Legislative auditors, the U.S. Commerce Department's inspector general and a Capitol Hill Senate committee have all criticized the state's handling of federal stimulus money designed to expand broadband Internet access across West Virginia.
A report issued by the West Virginia legislative auditor said the equipment purchased from Cisco was much more powerful and expensive than needed. The report estimates the state could have saved more than $9 million if better choices had been made for the equipment placed in schools, libraries and State Police detachments.
Joe Manchin's administration approved the router project, but Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has reacted to the audit. He said he agrees with some of the criticism, but he maintains it is very important to expand broadband access for all West Virginians.
"As far as some of the audit findings, you know I agree with them," Tomblin said. "There should have been MOUs with people who are going to receive them and so forth. You know those things should have happened. However, the goal that we've got to keep our eye on is to continue to make sure we get broadband throughout the state of West Virginia. If we can make some changes or whatever we need to do with the large routers, then we're gonna do that to right-size them."
Legislative auditors recommended barring Cisco from future state contracts because of how the company handled the router deal. Auditors also want to end the bidding process involved in the purchase, which bypasses normal state contract rules.
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