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Government Networking The Almighty Buck United States Verizon Your Rights Online

West Virginia Buys $22K Routers With Stimulus, Puts Them In Small Schools 295

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-tax-dollars-at-work dept.
DesScorp writes "The Charleston Gazette is reporting that the state of West Virginia has purchased hundred of enterprise class routers from Cisco at over $22,000 dollars apiece via federal stimulus money. The stimulus cash was intended to spread broadband coverage. The problem is that the routers are overkill, and are being placed in small schools and libraries with just a handful of users. The West Virginia Office of Technology warned that the purchase was 'grossly oversized' for the intended uses, but the purchase went through anyway. Curiously, the project is being headed up not by the state's usual authorities on such matters, but by Jimmy Gianato, West Virginia's Homeland Security Chief. In addition to the $24 million contract signed with Verizon Network Integration to provide the routers and maintenance, Gianato asked for additional equipment and services that tacked an additional $2.26 million to the bill. Perhaps the worst part is that hundreds of the routers are sitting in their boxes, unused, two years after the purchase."
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West Virginia Buys $22K Routers With Stimulus, Puts Them In Small Schools

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  • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:00PM (#39971967) Homepage

    State and federal spending rules are designed to be penny wise and pound foolish. They'll imprison a contractor who charges 5 hours of lunch breaks to a contract but won't even fire an employee who wastes several millions of dollars in a spending spree so ludicrous that no reasonable person would have charged forward on that. So the Verizon contractor who skips an hour a day but costs the tax payers a few thousand dollars at the most is more likely to get prosecuted than the high ranking government employee who just spent $25m when $2.5m (parts and labor) was likely the true ceiling for legitimate costs.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:03PM (#39972007)

    For an extreme example, see the train to the nowhere (desert) in California. That's right. It just stops rather than continuing on to Las Vegas.

    And for the Most extreme example, see the ghost cities of China where the government is builiding cities to "stimulate" the economy and the cities are almot completely empty. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPILhiTJv7E [youtube.com] Government stimulus == waste, not stimulus. The free market allocates money better (and when the money gets wasted, it's usually some rich fat cat who wastes the money, not the taxpayers).

  • Not surprised at all (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dptalia (804960) on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:05PM (#39972037) Homepage Journal
    A decade ago I worked a contract for a small school district in Texas, installing server. The servers were several years out of date - purchased with a federal grant for millions of dollars. They then say in a warehouse until the district got YET ANOTHER grant to install it. Maintenance? Not unless they get another grant because no one there had a clue.....
  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:08PM (#39972103)

    Why not just mandate that all telephone companies MUST offer DSL to any customer that asks (in the same way government mandates companies must provide phone service). Instant broadband coverage to everybody who wants it.

  • Re:WTF (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:19PM (#39972289)

    That 200 student school better have the same number of classrooms, chairs, and desks as the 2000 student school.

    And the same number of teachers. The same quantity of lunch prepared each day. The same number of computers. Can't harm the opportunity of the people at a smaller school after all.

  • by sjames (1099) on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:27PM (#39972425) Homepage

    In that case, I want my 'universal access' fees back.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:50PM (#39972815)

    I've seen this exact thing happen with just about every school that I had contact with while serving as Tech Director of a k-12 school district.
    I believe that people forget where the govt gets their money from and just think that it's free money.

    It doesn't even have to make sense, believe me if schools could get hundreds of chauffeured limos for free to replace their buses, they would do it, because after all it's "free", and for some reason it doesn't matter how stupid of an idea it is.

    In my case, I had to fight to get equipment that was reasonable for the job in place of millions of dollars worth of equipment that was overkill in the extreme for all the schools i was in charge of. We actually had meetings where we were yelling at each other because I thought putting a $60,000 switch into a school that only had 200 students was a waste of tax payers money. I was just told repeatedly that if we were going to get it for free, or almost free that we should take as much as we could get.

  • Re:Spending Problems (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:51PM (#39972827) Homepage

    This is not much compared with the Homeland Security debacle. Our little town was essentially forced to by trunking radios because that's what 'everybody else' is using. We have all of 6 VHF channels on the island. We don't need trunking. But now everybody carries these dipshit, overweight Motorola monsters that require a $20K (I kid you not) station to program them. Their only major advantage of the new ones is that they're so heavy they can be used for self defense.

    We were forced to get a 'Police boat' to keep us safe from der Terrorists. Fine, we have a large harbor system and we're on an island. But the only ones you could get with DHS money (which had to be spent on the boat) were designed for nice urban harbors that didn't have things like sharp volcanic rocks everywhere and that weren't designed for heavy water.

    So the boat sits in the stall with it's side bladder half inflated (another rock) while the old beat up aluminum skiff does the actual work.

    So, yeah, Standard Operating Procedure.

  • by thomasw_lrd (1203850) on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:59PM (#39972931)

    What we're forgetting is that this was a grant from the federal govt. They had to spend however much they got, or they coudln't get another grant again.

    I used to live on Air Force Base, and they would repave the roads every year to make sure every dime was spent. Then they took out all the roads, and tore down the houses to build a park. I'm sure they eventually tore out the park, and rebuilt the houses, and continue to repave the roads every year.

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:59PM (#39972933)

    For $22,000 they could have bought 44,000 WRT54gs with DD-WRT on them, flashed them all with the same firmware /config, and if anything went wrong just threw the malfunctioning one away and popped in one of the 39,999 spares.

    Theres a point at which "reliable" is no longer enough to justify the pricetag, especially when dealing with a 4-user scenario. And its not like there arent oodles of Cisco products for way less money that can handle T1 and come with the "legendary" cisco name, for instance a 1800 router, or if youre feeling particularly spend happy a 2900.

  • by sir-gold (949031) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:50PM (#39973611)

    It's funny how the DSL providers will swear up and down for years that they can't get DSL or fiber into your area. Then one day, they hear that the city itself is planning to roll out city-wide broadband, so the DSL company is "suddenly" able to serve your area, and sues the city for unfair competition.

    http://arstechnica.com/uncategorized/2008/09/telco-to-town-were-suing-you-because-we-care/ [arstechnica.com]

    Take a company, any company at all, and give them the choice between money and truth, they will ALWAYS pick money.

  • by Radical Moderate (563286) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:36PM (#39974097)
    I work in IT for education, believe me, most of us know what a dollar is worth and do our best to stretch them. Somebody's either on the take or a complete moron.
  • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Saturday May 12, 2012 @03:54AM (#39977281) Journal

    PoE is (in my experience) basically only used for door access control card readers and biometrics, and IP cameras, and copper Ethernet extenders, and 802.11 wireless access points, and pro audio gear.

    Meanwhile, the only VoIP phones I've ever installed needed a local 5V wall-wart and did not support PoE (would've been nice).

    Your mileage plainly differs.

    That said: It's easy to segregate PoE devices, because there typically are only so many of them, and it's also ridiculously easy to add PoE into any existing infrastructure -- especially if the only thing using it is a bunch of bandwidth-efficient telephones. Cross-connect cables and human time are cheaper, all day long, than superfluously providing PoE to every port.

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)

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