February 26, 2013, 9:29 AM — West Virginia wasted millions in federal grant money when it purchased 1,164 Cisco routers for $24 million in 2010, a state audit concluded.
A report issued this month by the West Virginia Legislative Auditor found the state used a "legally unauthorized purchasing process" when awarding the router contract, paid for with federal stimulus funds, to Cisco. The auditor also found Cisco "showed a wanton indifference to the interests of the public" in recommending the investment in its model 3945 branch routers, the majority of which were "oversized" for the requirements of the state agencies using them, the report stated.
"The Legislative Auditor believes that the Cisco sales representatives and engineers had a moral responsibility to propose a plan which reasonably complied with Cisco's own engineering standards," the report states. "(The auditor) concludes that the majority of Level 3 Cisco model 3945 routers which were purchased are unnecessary."
Cisco declined to comment on the report, instead referring all inquiries to the state of West Virginia.
West Virginia could have saved almost $8 million had the scope of the purchase been scaled to the requirements of the state's libraries, schools and state police, the report states. Smaller, less expensive routers could have been used in the state's 172 libraries, resulting in a savings of $2.8 million; in state police facilities, for a savings of $1 million to $1.4 million; and in 368 schools with enrollments of less than 500, for a savings of $3.68 million.
The report recommends that West Virginia's State Office of Technology look into possibly redeploying any Cisco 3945 routers to more appropriate public facilities to maximize their usage; and/or trading out unnecessary features and modules on the 3945s which have yet to be deployed for the $80,000 of VoIP modules necessary to run the state police's VoIP system.
The report also recommends the state's purchasing division determine whether the Cisco representatives involved with the sale are liable for debarment under state code.