CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More than two years after state officials used $1.7 million in federal stimulus funds to purchase 77 high-priced Internet routers for the West Virginia State Police, all but one of the devices remain unused because they don't have proper components.
Some routers remain boxed up in storage at State Police detachments across the state. Others have been installed on racks, but haven't been turned on. The State Police detachment in Logan has the only router that's up and running.
In reports provided to the federal government, state officials list the 77 routers assigned to State Police as "deployed" and "100 percent complete."
State officials also have touted the equipment -- part of a $126.3 million high-speed Internet expansion project -- as necessary to "enhance the public safety of first responders and [West Virginia] citizens."
The new routers -- bought with stimulus funds for $22,600 each -- lack voicemail modules, and State Police can't operate the agency's voicemail system without the hardware, according to emails obtained by the Gazette under the state Freedom of Information Act.
"As provided to us, the routers did not have the module in them," said Bill Gallagher, information technology director at the State Police. "It's just a piece of hardware that's not there."
The new routers came with a five-year service warranty, so the State Police already have lost two years of free maintenance on the equipment.
State Police also must purchase new licenses for their Cisco phones and voicemail, if the agency ever starts using the new stimulus-funded routers.
"There apparently is an issue with how Cisco changed the licensing scheme," said Lt. G.E. McCabe, statewide interoperability coordinator at the State Police. "Our voicemail system requires licensing."
Needed components could cost $270K
The state shipped the 77 Internet routers to State Police headquarters in South Charleston in October 2010. The agency distributed the routers to detachments and other trooper facilities across the state, Gallagher said.
About a year ago, State Police notified the state Office of Technology that the routers lacked the voicemail module and wouldn't be installed and turned on, according to a Department of Administration spokeswoman.
Since then, State Police have repeatedly asked administrators overseeing the $126.3 million federal stimulus grant for advice on resolving the router problem.
Broadband project officials promised to "push" Cisco into supplying the voicemail modules and licenses -- presumably at no cost -- or pry loose extra funds from the state's stimulus grant, according to an email Gallagher sent to the Office of Technology on June 5.
"We have been waiting for the answer as to how this is to be handled and haven't heard anything, and therefore we are not pushing [the routers] into service," Gallagher wrote.
Gallagher, his superiors at the State Police, and state technology office executives would not say how much it would cost to buy the hardware and "Cisco Call Manager Express" phone licenses needed to run the agency's voicemail system on the new routers.
"The Office of Technology is presently assessing possible resolutions to this compatibility issue," said Diane Holley-Brown, a spokeswoman for the agency. "It is premature to associate any potential costs until the final determination is made."
The State Police's voicemail system now operates, without problems, using less-powerful and lower-priced Cisco routers. The smaller routers have voicemail modules, but the hardware isn't compatible with the new stimulus-funded routers. So the modules cannot be taken out of the old routers and inserted into the new ones.
After the Gazette started asking questions about the unused routers earlier this month, Gallagher sent an email to technology office administrator John Dunlap, listing the parts and licenses needed to get the new routers up and running.
The voicemail modules cost about $3,000 each -- or about $270,000 for 77. The new licenses cost about $100 per phone. State Police have about 1,700 phones, so new voicemail licenses could run as much as $170,000.
State doesn't track routers in use