"If we had an independent consultant to help us with our decisions at the very beginning, we'd all be smarter," Burdette said. "We probably should have had someone like ICF at the front end."
Burdette said ICF is expected to issue a report about West Virginia's use of the $126.3 million grant in 30 to 90 days. The state must finish the broadband expansion project by February 2013 or risk losing unspent funds.
"This thing is pretty far down the pike," Burdette said. "If there are things we need to do, we need to know pretty quickly. At the same time, we want a thorough review."
At a meeting last summer, West Virginia Broadband Deployment Council members learned that the state could have $30 million to $40 million in leftover stimulus funds.
If that happens, ICF would likely recommend how the state could use the unspent funds -- and not have to return the grant money to the federal government, Burdette said.
"If money is left over, where are we going to put the money?" he said. "Hopefully, they're going to help guide us."
The Gazette also reported this week that the state has 366 unused routers in storage -- nearly two years after purchasing them. The state hasn't found a place to put about half of those routers. The devices direct data, such as email and web pages, from one computer network to another.
State officials have said they will find a home for every router by the time the stimulus grant expires.
The Cisco routers are designed to serve up to "tens of thousands" of users or device connections. Yet state officials have directed the installation of the stimulus-funded routers in West Virginia schools with fewer than a dozen computers and libraries that have only a single computer terminal for patrons.
State Homeland Security chief Jimmy Gianato, who heads West Virginia's broadband project team, has defended the router purchase, saying the equipment will meet the West Virginia's technology demands well into the future.
Burdette noted that the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which oversees broadband spending, has previously reviewed and approved West Virginia's equipment purchases under the federal stimulus grant.
"This grant was big and complicated," Burdette said. "The bottom line is we're going to catch up real quick now that we've got the consultants on board."
ICF opened a West Virginia office in Charleston in 2009.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.