The report finds plenty of blame to go around. The ultimate cause of the fiasco, it says, was the fact the grant implementers did not conduct a capacity or use study before spending $24 million. They also used a “legally unauthorized purchasing process” to buy the routers, which resulted in only modest competition for the bid. Finally, Cisco is accused of knowingly selling the state larger routers than it needed and of showing a “wanton indifference to the interests of the public.”

Getting any of the money back seems unlikely at this point, but the legislative auditor does have one solid recommendation to make. The State Purchasing division should determine whether Cisco’s actions in this matter fall afoul of section 5A-3-33d of the West Virginia Code, and whether the company should be barred from bidding on future projects.

Cisco tells Ars “the criticism of the State is misplaced and fails to recognize the forward-looking nature of their vision. The positive impact of broadband infrastructure on education, job creation, and economic development is well established, and we are committed to working with the State to realize these benefits for the people of West Virginia now and into the future.”

As for that $5+ million the state could have saved—it would have paid for 104 additional miles of fiber.

Nate Anderson, “Why a one-room West Virginia library runs a $20,000 Cisco router: Cisco, West Virginia wasted $5M on enterprise-class routers
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