CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Bureaucracy can be mindless and incompetent.
After West Virginia got a $126 million federal stimulus grant to expand high-speed Internet access across the state, bureaucrats foolishly squandered part of the taxpayer money by putting monster-size $22,000 wi-fi routers in some small libraries, State Police barracks and offices where $100 routers would have served quite well. That mess caused a political outcry and remains under examination. Last week, Statehouse reporter Eric Eyre revealed that 76 State Police routers are unused, although state officials told federal agencies that all are "deployed."
Now Eyre has outlined another botch: Bidding on a contract to spend the final $9 million of the $126 million grant was stymied because bureaucrats mailed a bid request to a little Frontier retail store in the Eastern Panhandle, not to Frontier's large Charleston headquarters.
Ask yourself: If you were a state official wanting to communicate with Frontier's corporate headquarters -- a quarter-mile across Kanawha River from the Capitol -- would you send documents to a tiny branch outlet 200 miles away?
This bungle didn't happen because Frontier was unfamiliar to the state bidding system. The telecommunications utility already had performed most fiber optic installation under the $126 million grant.
Maybe the state's hiring process should require bureaucrats to pass I.Q. tests.