CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia officials "fell a little bit short" notifying public agencies across the state about the use and capabilities of Internet routers purchased for $24 million with federal stimulus funds, Chief Technology Officer Gale Given told state lawmakers Monday.
"We fell a little bit short in our communication plan," said Gale Given, who oversees technology for West Virginia state government. "We could have done a better job. This was a good learning lesson for my office."
The West Virginia Legislative Auditor and U.S. Department of Commerce Inspector General are reviewing the state's use of the federal stimulus grant to purchase more than 1,000 routers at $22,600 each.
Some public agency administrators have complained they never requested the high-priced devices and have no use for them.
The West Virginia State Police has 76 routers it hasn't installed because the devices lack proper equipment needed to make them compatible with the agency's Internet and phone network.
Other agency officials have said they don't have anybody on staff with the technical expertise to install the routers, which funnel data, such as email and websites, from one computer network to another.
Also, some public facilities can't afford to turn on the routers because the new fiber-optic Internet connections that come with them cost significantly more.
Given said the Office of Technology is sending technicians to the facilities to help install the routers -- purchased more than two years ago -- and give instructions about their capabilities.
"It's a big challenge to make sure all the entities use them to their full capacity," she said.
Given said the state sent information and contacted one person at every public facility before delivering the routers. However, that person didn't always pass the information along to other office employees, she said.
"We relied on individuals to share information," Given said. "There were some instances where we fell short."
Sen. Bob Williams, D-Taylor, said he has fielded phone calls from librarians who say the new fiber-cable Internet subscriptions cost too much, so the libraries aren't using the fiber and routers.
"They appreciate the fiber, but they can't afford to turn it on," Williams said.
Given said her office was working with the West Virginia Library Commission and Frontier Communications, which is building the fiber network, to lower subscription costs.
Given said auditors with the U.S. Inspector General recently toured several public facilities where the routers were up and running.