The 2007 communications equipment contract didn't specify a maximum-dollar purchase limit, but the contract apparently wasn't designed for multimillion-dollar transactions.
The $24 million router purchase was 345 times higher than the average purchase on the statewide contract and 22 times higher than the next largest transaction, the Gazette has reported.
Under the 2007 contract, state agencies spent $53,600 per purchase on average during the past five years - excluding the $24 million router transaction, according to state Auditor's records.
By using the statewide contract, state officials bypassed the state's formal and comprehensive bidding process.
Instead, the Office of Technology used a "secondary bid process," soliciting router bids on the agency's online "bulletin board" for five days. The request was never publicly advertised, and the Purchasing Division and Department of Administration never reviewed the bids.
That will change under the new rules.
"In the case of utilizing the secondary bid process, the Purchasing Division will have two opportunities to review the agency's purchase," Holley-Brown said. "First with the agency's intent, and secondly, once they have attained bids from the qualified bidders and plan to issue the [purchase] release order."
State Homeland Security Director Jimmy Gianato has defended the router purchase, saying the state followed "normal procedures for procuring such equipment," according to a letter he sent to the Legislative Auditor in late August.
Gale Given, West Virginia's chief technology officer, also has said the state's decision to use the 2007 contract to buy the routers was appropriate. Given did not work in state government when the state bought the routers in July 2010.
The machines, which funnel data from one computer network to another, cost $22,600 each.
In a report released last week, the U.S. Commerce Department's Inspector General found that West Virginia could have purchased smaller, less expensive routers for many schools, libraries, county courthouses, health centers and planning agencies.
The Cisco 3945 series routers - which the state purchased from Verizon's retail division - were designed to serve a minimum of 500 users. But the state has installed the devices in some public facilities with only a few Internet connections. Seventy percent of the routers wound up in schools and libraries.
The state Legislative Auditor is expected to release a report about the $24 million router purchase in February.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.