"Mr. Strickling does not know what he is talking about when he was referring to list price of the routers," Allred said. "Cisco would have obviously discounted 1,164 smaller routers. The cost savings could have been greater than what we reported. We took a conservative approach."
Stickling noted that a U.S. Commerce Department inspector general's report found less waste.
The federal audit estimated that the state could have saved $1.2 million by purchasing Cisco 2900 series routers -- a size smaller than the routers purchased -- in 23 counties with fewer than 20,000 residents. Those counties received 231 of the 1,164 routers.
The federal auditors did not calculate cost savings on routers smaller than the 2900 series, nor in West Virginia counties with more than 20,000 people -- where more than 900 routers were assigned.
Based on the federal analysis, the state's decision to put a $22,600 router at the Marmet library was appropriate because the facility sits in Kanawha County, a county with more than 20,000 people.
"The [inspector general] didn't dig as deep as the West Virginia auditor did," Walden said.
Amid questions about the Marmet library's router, Strickling said "the community" plans to build a 5,500-square-foot library in Marmet.
"If Marmet had a new library and capacity for the future, we wouldn't be having the discussion," said U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. "It's the shed that doesn't look good."
At a meeting Tuesday, the Kanawha County Public Library board, which oversees the Marmet library, talked about closing facilities, not building new ones. After a state Supreme Court decision last week, the Kanawha library system could lose as much as 40 percent of its funding, which comes from the Kanawha County Board of Education.
Eshoo also defended Cisco on Wednesday. The state audit recommended that the West Virginia Purchasing Division investigate if Cisco sales representatives and engineers who brokered the router deal should be barred from doing business with state government in West Virginia.
"Cisco did not write up the order," Eshoo said. "They responded to a customer and sold them what they asked for."
The Gazette has previously reported that state officials purchased the Cisco routers after consulting with Cisco sales reps and engineers. Verizon sold the Cisco routers to the state.
Federal and state auditors found that West Virginia officials made the $24 million router purchase without conducting a study to determine what size routers were needed at public facilities.
Strickling told federal lawmakers that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is putting together a group that's working with Cisco to discuss the router deal and possible next steps.
Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., criticized Strickling for comments he made during a congressional hearing last May. At the time, Strickling was responding to a series of Gazette reports that raised questions about the router purchase.
"You did say, 'Don't believe everything you read in the newspaper,'" Shimkus reminded Strickling on Wednesday. "And after government review and oversight, the reality is you can believe what you read in that newspaper."
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.