Once the cost of waste and outright wrongdoing in West Virginia’s massive program to improve Internet access is added up, it will not be surprising if the total is in eight figures.
State officials admit $7.9 million was wasted in purchasing unnecessarily expensive network routers. Some analysts say the waste actually was twice that. And millions more may have been spent improperly when state bidding procedures were ignored in a communications tower project.
It all was part of a program to spend $126.3 million in federal “stimulus” money given to the state. Misuse of much of that money has received national attention.
Earlier this month, state legislators were told they should stiffen purchasing rules to avoid similar waste in the future. Lawmakers should accept every recommendation along that line from the Legislative Auditor’s Office – and more.
In addition, investigations of misspending should continue. Those who broke state rules should be fired – and/or prosecuted, if crimes occurred.
Too much money was wasted for state officials merely to try to do better in the future.