"We understand that West Virginia may have hired its own independent auditor to review the project," Walden and Shimkus wrote in a June 4 letter. "Nevertheless, when federal taxpayer dollars are at stake, it is important that federal officials scrutinize federally funded projects to guard against waste, fraud and abuse."
Earlier this year, West Virginia Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette's office tapped ICF International, a Vienna, Va.-based consulting firm, to examine the state's use of the $126.3 million stimulus grant.
The Gazette has reported that Burdette has past financial ties to ICF's lead consultant, Keith Montgomery, under the West Virginia contract. In 2005 and 2006, Burdette worked as a lobbyist for iTown Communications, a company headed by Montgomery.
Last month, the Gazette also reported that more than 300 routers remain boxed up in storage. The routers came with a five-year service warranty, so the state has already lost two years of free maintenance on the devices.
State officials are working to find sites to install the routers. The devices funnel data, such as email and websites, from one computer network to another.
Gianato and President Obama's top advisor on telecommunications issues have defended the router purchase.
In a May 30 letter to Walden, U.S. Assistant Commerce Secretary Lawrence Strickling wrote that West Virginia's decision to purchase the same size router for 1,064 public facilities, regardless of size, was the "most economical." Strickling noted that the state's former chief technology officer, Kyle Schafer, signed off on the $24 million purchase.
Strickling also clarified a previous statement he made about router costs.
At the May 16 hearing in Washington, Strickling testified that the routers cost $12,000, not $22,600 as the Gazette has reported.
Strickling now acknowledges that his $12,000 figure didn't include "add-ons" -- additional equipment that came with the devices, along with a service warranty. The extra features added $10,600 to the cost of each router.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.