Report Shows Verizon, Cisco Ripped Off West Virginia
As State Investigates Botched Broadband Stimulus Spending
West Virginia is one of the worst connected states in the nation, something that was supposed to be helped by a $126.3-million federal stimulus grant intended to improve state broadband. Instead, as a series of excellent reports in the Charleston Gazette
have illustrated over the past year, state leaders doled out most of that money to Verizon and Cisco, who convinced the (either corrupt or totally incompetent) state officials to spend it on ridiculously overpriced, overpowered and unused routers
, and ridiculously overpaid consultants who haven't actually accomplished anything
After an investigation by the State, a new audit
(pdf) has been released that digs into the dysfunction further. The report illustrates the mess you can truly achieve when predatory companies are matched with incompetent and corrupt lawmakers with money to spend. The report notes that the state didn't hold adequate bidding for services, resulting in $5 million in over-spending and the distribution of the over-powered and in many cases still boxed routers:
The process used to purchase the Cisco routers was not equal, fair or consistent with the
intent of the purchasing statute. The Legislature has declared that its intent is "to promote equal and fair bidding" and "to eliminate fraud." 64 Vendors of non-Cisco branch routers such as HP, Brocade, Juniper, and Alcatel-Lucent were not given notice or any opportunity to bid on the statewide expansion of broadband.
In other words, Verizon Network Integration and Cisco made out like bandits through a rigged, closed door bidding process -- and then botched the contract after winning it. Note the study only really looked at the bidding for the routers, it didn't look at the fact there's numerous highly-paid "consultants" (one being paid $512,000) who don't seem to be accomplishing anything, or Verizon's long and ugly history
in the state.