Auditors to examine West Virginia's broadband stimulus spending

West Virginia officials may have "made some mistakes" in how they've gone about spending $126 million in federal economic stimulus funds to expand the state's high-speed Internet, state Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette concedes, adding that if that's the case "we need to take lemons and make lemonade."

Keith Burdette, West Virginia

Burdette

Among other things, the state supposedly spent $22,600 apiece on routers intended for major research universities, medical centers and large corporations and deployed them into small libraries, elementary schools and health clinics. The deployment devoured about $25 million of the federal funds.

"I'm reading stuff in your stories and learning stuff in the process," Burdette told The Charleston Gazette. "If those routers are bigger than we need, then we need to figure out what we do about it. Where do we go from here? Let's figure out how we can use them."

Virginia-based ICF International, a consulting firm first hired to analyze West Virginia's existing broadband infrastructure, has been given expanded responsibilities to figure out how the stimulus money should be spent. Part of that process will include a financial audit.

"We need guidance from folks who aren't trying to sell us something," Burdette was quoted by The Gazette as saying.

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