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AUDITOR'S OFFICE TAKES ROUTER AFTER CRITICAL REPORT


Publication: THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE
Published: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Page: 5A
Byline: ERIC EYRE STAFF WRITER


The same West Virginia Legislative Auditor's office that blistered state officials last year for wasting up to $15 million on oversized Internet routers recently accepted one of the high-priced devices.

Legislative auditors disclosed their plans to install the Cisco router during a joint House-Senate interim committee meeting Monday.

State officials purchased more than 1,000 routers in 2010, but have struggled to find places to put them.

Legislative Auditor Aaron Allred said his office took one of more than 60 routers still boxed up in storage at a state Capitol office building.

"Cisco said it was too big for us to use, but if it's free, that's better than buying a new router, Allred said after the meeting. "Given that the taxpayers had already paid for the routers, it made clear sense to use the equipment already purchased.

In February, Allred's office released a scathing report, finding that the state wasted at least $7.9 million - and up to $15 million - on oversized routers, which funnel data from one computer network to another. The state audit - and a previous federal audit - determined the state could have purchased smaller, less expensive routers for hundreds of public facilities across the state.

In response, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin directed state officials to reconsider where they installed the high-capacity Cisco 3945 series routers paid for with $24 million in stimulus funds. The routers cost $22,600 each.

On Monday, Gale Given, the state's chief technology officer, said her agency exchanged 32 of the large routers for 65 smaller routers and 30 router switches.

Many of the smaller routers will be shipped to public libraries that didn't need the high-capacity equipment. State parks, county health departments, the Division of Corrections, and field offices under the state Division of Natural Resources and Department of Health and Human Resources also will receive the smaller routers.

The Legislative Auditor also was scheduled to receive two additional smaller routers - both Cisco 2921 series devices. But Allred said his office likely wouldn't accept them, and would only take the 3945 series router. Allred said the additional routers would have been used by other agencies under the Joint Legislative Committee on Government and Finance.

The state Office of Technology plans to keep nine of the larger routers for its regional offices, and ship 13 to West Virginia Public Broadcasting, which is upgrading its equipment and facilities.

The Division of Homeland Security also will receive five of the large routers. Homeland Security Chief Jimmy Gianato took part in the decision to buy the oversized routers in 2010, part of a statewide high-speed Internet expansion project funded by the federal stimulus. Gianato has repeatedly said the devices were the appropriate size for all public facilities that received them.

State lawmakers asked Given Monday whether the routers were plugged in and running. Some agencies have said they have no use for the devices.

"There may still be some not being used, but the vast majority of them will be used, Given said. "We don't have a problem finding good homes for them. Most of them are in place and working.

Reach Eric Eyre at ericeyre@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.

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