State will suffer as a result of ‘Routergate’

An editorial from The Journal

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Mismanagement of a federal “stimulus” grant has come back to haunt West Virginia officials – as well it should. A new investigation of how federal money was spent in our state is a reminder of the damage done by what has come to be known as “Routergate.”

That fiasco involved about $24 million in “stimulus” money used to buy computer network routers for public facilities throughout West Virginia. As we reported and federal investigators concluded, state officials spent far too much money on routers that were unnecessarily complex and expensive.

Now, the U.S. Department of Commerce is looking into another “stimulus” project, in which about $42 million was spent to expand fiber-optic cable networks in West Virginia. Federal investigators are seeking thousands of documents in an effort to determine whether the state paid too much for the work.

Even in Washington, where vast cost overruns are common and outright fraud is sometimes the culprit, the West Virginia router episode raised eyebrows. It means federal funding agencies will continue to view big spending projects in West Virginia with suspicion. It probably also means the state will get less federal money in the future.

Did anyone lose his or her job over “Routergate”? No – and that is the real outrage.

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