In that letter, NTIA acknowledged that West Virginia officials had asked the agency to approve the Citynet project and extend the Dec. 31 deadline, but the state never submitted a formal request for an extension.
"Considering the broadband challenges that exist in the state, it would be a travesty for these funds to go unused," Martin said.
Given said Wednesday that her office spoke frequently with NTIA officials about Citynet's project in recent months.
"We were not advised that we needed to request an extension 30 days in advance," Given said. "When we did make the request, we were told that it was late, but that that was just a technicality."
The NTIA had previously twice extended deadlines for completing the project over the past two years.
Martin said Citynet still might be able to complete its project without the $2.5 million in leftover stimulus funds.
Martin has asked whether the state would use a $1.4 million credit from Cisco Systems to help Citynet buy equipment for the project. In exchange for the $1.4 million credit, Cisco has said it would take back 60 to 100 oversized Internet routers that the state bought from the company in 2010 but never used.
Frontier Communications, West Virginia's largest Internet provider, has opposed Citynet's project, saying the proposal doesn't meet federal broadband grant guidelines. Frontier installed 675 miles of fiber-optic cable to public facilities in West Virginia as part of the $126.3 million statewide broadband expansion project.
Martin has asked the legislative auditor to review Frontier's invoices.
Frontier had recommended that the state use the leftover stimulus funds to bring fiber-optic cable to additional public buildings -- or to extend broadband to homes in rural Webster County. Frontier urged state officials to spend the leftover funds so the money wouldn't have to be returned to the federal government.
The $126.3 million project has repeatedly come under fire. Last February, the Legislative Auditor released a scathing report, finding that state officials wasted at least $7.9 million -- and up to $15 million -- after buying oversized Internet routers for small libraries and other public facilities with only a few Internet connections. In October, a second audit revealed that state officials circumvented state purchasing laws before awarding contracts to companies that were paid with stimulus funds.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.