However, in July 2010, government officials spent $24 million on Cisco 3945 series routers, using secondary bids on a 2007 contract for Internet telephone equipment. The contract made no mention of routers.
The 2007 contract specified "Cisco or equal" equipment, but someone changed the wording to "Cisco only" when the state Office of Technology solicited bids on its online "bulletin board," according to the audit. The change shut out Cisco competitors, such as Alcatel-Lucent and Hewlett Packard."
The request also was never publicly advertised, and the Purchasing Division and Department of Administration never reviewed the bids.
The audit said former Chief Technology Officer Kyle Schafer tried to halt the router purchase, but his objections came too late.
Homeland Security Director Jimmy Gianato has defended the router purchase, saying the administration followed "normal procedures for procuring such equipment," according to a letter he sent to the auditors.
Administration lawyers have said they believe the secondary bid process is legal, although a specific ban on the practice was a key part of the governor's purchasing-reform bill.
The administration is installing the routers at "community anchor institutions" -- schools, libraries, health centers, courthouses, State Police detachments, state agencies and other government facilities. The routers cost $22,600 each.
In late January, the Purchasing Division implemented new rules that require state agencies to get written approval before using statewide contracts to buy goods and services that cost more than $250,000. The change brings greater scrutiny to high-dollar purchases, such as the $24 million router buy.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.