U.S. Senator Joe Manchin seems to be standing by the decisions made, during his time as Governor, that lead to millions of dollars in federal stimulus money being wasted on more than 1,100 computer routers.

“The routers were a long-term investment for West Virginia.  We were planning for future growth and wanted to be able to educate our children, create jobs, grow our economy and keep our communities safe well into the 21st century,” Senator Manchin said in a statement on Tuesday.

“As Governor and as Senator, I’ve always believed that it’s important to look beyond the shortsighted goals of today and start building our state’s future.”

Using $24 million in federal stimulus money, the state purchased 1,164 Cisco computer routers, the equipment that connects computer networks.

However, a legislative audit released this week found smaller, less expensive routers would have made more sense for the locations in West Virginia where they were to be used.

The estimate is the state wasted at least $8 million on routers for schools, libraries and State Police barracks that are not even usable in some cases.

Read audit report here.

“I think that’s a mistake to stand by it because I don’t think it’s defensible,” House Minority Leader Tim Armstead said of Senator Manchin’s statement, defending the expense, on Tuesday’s MetroNews Talkline.

“It’s a colossal waste, probably the most colossal waste of taxpayer money that I’m aware of in West Virginia, one of the most.”

Delegate Armstead, a Republican from Kanawha County, says the money could have been spent in many better ways.  “Infrastructure is not just roads and bridges, it’s computer infrastructure too and we don’t have that in West Virginia to the point we need it,” he said.

“We wasted an opportunity with this to do that.”

In the audit, the overspending is blamed on the state Office of Technology and the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program Grant Implementation Team as well as Cisco.

The audit notes the router project was not subjected to the state’s regular competitive bid process.

“I certainly was shocked about the process.  I was shocked about the decision.  I was shocked that there was no oversight,” Randolph County Senator Clark Barnes said of his response to the audit on Tuesday’s MetroNews Talkline.

He says West Virginia is not alone among states when it comes to blowing a lot of federal stimulus money.

“The millions of dollars that we spent in this state on this program is probably duplicated in many states,” Senator Barnes said.

Senator Manchin’s statement continued with the following:

“Our state had the largest increase in broadband use among all states between 2007 and 2010 and is one of the fastest growing states to expand broadband availability, according to a report that was released just last week.

“If there are things that can be done better or more efficiently, then let’s do it.”

Both Delegate Armstead and Senator Barnes were guests on Tuesday’s MetroNews Talkline.  The show originated from the State Capitol ahead of the start of the 2013 Regular Legislative Session on Wednesday.

 

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Comments

  • Wowbagger

    I doubt that a proper investigation will ever take place, but I suspect that the buck stops with one or more of the following: Joe Manchin, Kyle Schafer, Kelley Goes, and Robert Ferguson.

    Don't know whether stupidity, greed, or a little of both is the primary cause of this decision.

    Ole Joe is at least as much a piece of work as his uncle A. James.

  • Medman

    Did anyone check to see if MoJo received any campaign donations from Cisco?

  • Fred

    He's such a liar. He wants to plan for the future? And yet, he nixed ALL merit raises for state employees? So state workers have absolutely no incentive to stick around?

    Manchin is by far, the WORST politician this state has ever had. And that list has some baaaaaad characters on there.

    And don't forget, he tried to get the state's flagship university (when it was ran by his cronies) to give his whiny kid a fake degree.

    Only the actions of an out of state newspaper (the pittsburgh post gazette) stopped it. If it was left up to hoppy and the rest of the instate media, Heather Bresch (I mean, Heather Manchin) would be looking at a nice free degree from our state's flagship institution of higher learning.

    Yeah Joe, you are such a great guy!

    • Robert

      He also cut the budget for the entire Highways Division, then left all the blame on the agencies when they could not afford to patch, ditch and fix road issues, or hire additional workers for the increases amount of roads they must attend too. Of course the DOH will not admit this to the press because they don't want Joe breathing down their backs. The entire WV Government is corrupt.

  • Medman

    Spending $24 million without bids and relying on the vendor to write the specs......are you nuts, Joe? If he did this in the private sector, he would have been fired on the spot. No one can justify spending more than $100 for a router for the Marmet Library which has one Internet connection. Calling this an investment in the future is moronic and an insult to our intelligence. Folks, this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of waste by incompetent hack politicians and the bureaucrats they appoint.

  • SahdyGrove

    A colossal waste of money. There is little chance any of the users will ever come near to using the the capacity of the routers, and if they did many, many years in the future, the routers would be obsolete by then.

  • Woodchuck

    Joe says we had the greatest increase in broadband use etc. This was without the routers.

    The purchasing rules are designed to be bypassed. Wow I thought this was bid? That kinda money and no bids? Where do I apply?

    Our govt makes us look stupid NOT BuckWild!

  • C.Hoffman

    More Joe Manchin shenanigans. Thanks for reelecting this charlatan WV. 6 more years of deceptions. However with his attributes he makes a perfect in the U.S. Senate.

    • WV Patriot

      I agree. You don't buy too much router. They only last so long and are replaced. The old ones become, end of life, end of sale and end of support from CISCO. I've been in IT all my life. You build your architecture starting with user, application or facility requirements first. Knew this would be covered up by all involved. This should be investigated a federal govt I.G. as soon as possible.

  • Geno

    Who is surprised?