Technology Grade Is Mixed in W.Va.

It is true, as the Center for Digital Government pointed out recently, that West Virginia officials have vastly improved how technology is used to serve state residents and businesses during recent years.

Each year the center reviews the digital techology practices of all states and awards letter grades. This year, West Virginia received an A-minus. Just five other states (including Ohio and Pennsylvania) received that grade. Only two states (Michigan and Utah) did better.

Indeed, state officials have made better use of technology during the past few years. State residents can conduct more government business through the Internet. Much more information about the state, including how taxpayers’ money is spent, is available online.

So yes, Mountain State officials deserve a pat on the back for progress cited by the center.

Unfortunately, they also have earned a kick in the you-know-what. That is because of how the state has spent some of a $126 million federal “stimulus” grant intended to improve technology and access to it in West Virginia.

As we have reported, millions of dollars were wasted buying hundreds of complicated, expensive network routers that simply are not needed by many of the local and state agencies to which they were shipped. Some of the routers still are sitting in boxes.

Just last week it was revealed $1.7 million of the federal money was used to buy 77 routers for the West Virginia State Police about two years ago. Just one of the routers is functioning today. Someone didn’t think to coordinate the purchase with State Police technical staff, to ensure the routers would work with existing equipment. They don’t, and state officials are still trying to come up with a solution.

It’s nice some state officials have come up with new ways to serve West Virginians through technology. Now, if they’d just stop using it to find new ways to throw away taxpayers’ money, we could say progress is being made.