Strickling told lawmakers that the routers cost $12,000 each -- not $22,600 as the Gazette reported.
The newspaper included "add-ons" -- additional equipment that came with the devices, along with a service warranty -- in the purchase price. Strickling's figure presumably didn't include the extra features.
At Wednesday's hearing, Strickling also said that West Virginia's router purchase was competitively bid, and Cisco was the low bidder.
Bid documents show that Cisco never bid on the routers. Verizon Network Integration was the low bidder and sold the Cisco routers to the state.
Republicans on the communications subcommittee directed Strickling to provide them copies of West Virginia's bid documents.
"I would like to see the bids," Shimkus said. "I would like to see what they put out on the bid application. If it was my money, or if someone has a fiduciary responsibility, I would identify the bid based upon the need."
Shimkus and Walden asked why West Virginia officials didn't purchase routers of various sizes -- smaller ones for small facilities, bigger ones for large sites.
Strickling said the routers were "scalable," and could be expanded as facilities added computer terminals.
West Virginia will save money on training technicians because they'll only have to learn how to fix one type of router, not multiple routers, said Strickling, Obama's point man on broadband issues.
"West Virginia believes they have found the most economical solution by buying a single product and getting a substantial discount," Strickling said.
In April 2010, Strickling's agency awarded West Virginia a $126 million federal stimulus grant to bring high-speed fiber-optic cable to 1,064 "community anchor institutions" -- schools, libraries, county courthouses, 911 centers, health-care clinics and state agencies.
Four months later, the state purchased routers to hook up to the new fiber-optic connections. Verizon gave the state an additional 100 routers at no cost.
On Thursday, Rob Alsop, chief of staff for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, said state officials continue to work diligently to implement the $126 million grant.
"Just like Assistant Secretary Strickling, we believe that the purchase of the routers in 2010 was justified and that the end result of this forward thinking project will expand opportunities in every corner of the state," Alsop said.
As of last week, more than 300 routers remained boxed up in storage. The stored routers came with a five-year service warranty, so the state has already lost two years of free maintenance on the devices.
At Wednesday's hearing, Strickling was asked why West Virginia purchased more routers than needed. State officials, he said, later learned that many sites already had suitable routers and fiber connections.
Strickling said West Virginia officials should be praised, not scolded for holding back routers until they had a place to put them. "It was good project management, good oversight," he said.Shimkus disagreed. "Your answer to this West Virginia stuff is really bad," he said. "I hope people continue to dig into this."
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.