During the past two years, the state has distributed 756 stimulus-funded routers to public facilities across West Virginia, but the state's broadband project team doesn't keep track of how many of the devices have been installed and turned on.
In July 2010, state officials used federal stimulus money to buy 1,064 Cisco 3945 Series routers at a cost of $24 million. Seventy-seven of the pricey, high-powered devices were assigned to State Police facilities. The routers also were shipped to schools, libraries, jails, health-care clinics, county courthouses, 911 centers, regional planning offices and state agencies.
The new routers alone cost $7,800 each, but "add-ons" - additional equipment that came with the devices - boosted the price tag by $14,800.
Voicemail modules weren't included in the $24 million router purchase.
State officials said they weren't aware of any other public agencies that couldn't use the new routers because they lacked voicemail components and Cisco phone licenses. The voicemail modules snap into the back of the routers.
The Logan detachment installed and turned on its router, after purchasing a voicemail module and updated license with State Police funds. Gallagher declined to say how much the agency spent on the new hardware and license.
State Police also have a working stimulus-funded router at Winfield, but the detachment is using the device only for "testing," said Gallagher, who declined to elaborate.
'We simply cannot use the routers as is'
Last June, Gallagher notified the state Office of Technology that there was only one way to use the new routers without paying for the voice mail modules and licenses: State Police would have to plug the new routers into the agency's existing older ones. But Gallagher rejected that idea, saying it would increase the odds for equipment to break down. Routers funnel data, such as email and web pages, from one network to another.
"We simply can't use the routers as is unless we put them in front of our existing equipment, which in my opinion, would be creating another point of failure," he wrote in an email to the state technology office administrator Nick Patel.
Gallagher also told Patel that State Police would not buy the 77 router voicemail modules and new phone licenses.
"We are not able to fund the re-licensing nor the additional hardware it takes for voicemail," Gallagher wrote.
Earlier this month, the Office of Technology solicited proposals for using an estimated $9 million in stimulus funds left over from the $126.3 million federal grant. Five companies and a state agency submitted project ideas. State Police did not submit a proposal.
West Virginia must spend the entire $126.3 million by Feb. 13, or risk having to return any unspent funds to the federal government.
The U.S. Commerce Department Inspector General's office is reviewing the state's use of the federal stimulus money. The audit followed a series of reports in the Gazette that raised questions about the routers' size and cost.
Gallagher said he and Office of Technology personnel are searching for a way to fix the State Police router problem and put the devices into service. He declined to say whether the agency would request to use any of the leftover stimulus funds to purchase the voicemail hardware and licenses. Gallagher also said he doesn't have a deadline to resolve the issue.
"We're still in the troubleshooting phase, trying to figure out the right way to handle this," he said. "We're tying to find a cost-effective solution."
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.