West Virginia Homeland Security Director Jimmy Gianato defended how the state has spent a $126 million federal grant when he was questioned by state lawmakers Monday.
When one lawmaker suggested the state had “orchestrated a train wreck” with the broadband deployment project Gianato said not so.
“We’ve done everything the grant said we would do,” Gianato said.
West Virginia received the largest federal stimulus grant for broadband expansion two years ago. There’s been much criticism of what’s actually happened since then.
Gianato says it’s unfounded.
“The microwave network is almost complete. The connectivity of the 1,064 community anchors plus the additional 100 will be completed,” he said.
But some of the anchors will only get routers because the location already has fiber. The federal agency overseeing the spending of the funds has approved the change.
Meanwhile a federal and state review of the original purchase of expensive routers continues.
The state was supposed to have all of the work done by Jan 31 but it’s asked for an extension until Sept. 30 because of last year’s two major storms.
“We have a pending application and we’ve been told that most everything on the east coast that has been impacted by these storms (Sandy, derecho) will have extensions,” he said.
Gianato told lawmakers Monday the state hasn’t done anything without the approval of the federal government right from the beginning.
“This grant was held by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce as one of the best written and best proposals in the country,” Gianato said.