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‘Progress’ Has High Price Tag

February 3, 2013
By Mike Myer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Remember when computers were going to save us money and make our lives easier?

Maybe you don't. But there was a time when electronic technology was supposed to be humankind's servant. Now the roles have been reversed, in part because many politicians seem to have decided that whatever the tech companies say must be true.

What they seem to be saying most is, "Pay up."

Consider:

Operators of video gambling parlors in West Virginia have been informed the betting machines, most of them bought just a few years ago, will be junk - because the manufacturer says so - by Dec. 31, 2015.

In essence, here's the situation: The manufacturer, IGT, has notified the Lottery Commission that after that date, it no longer will support the system used to make the machines communicate with Lottery headquarters in Charleston. It will cost the operators between $21 million and $100 million to upgrade or replace the machines.

So egregious was the waste of taxpayers' money when West Virginia officials bought more than 1,000 computer network routers for public facilities that Congress took notice. The routers cost about $24 million - and most were vastly more complex and expensive than needed.

How did that happen? Because the router manufacturer actually convinced state officials they were getting a good deal.

State officials are having trouble finding enough money to pay West Virginia's share of the state-federal Medicaid program.

Well, Medicaid is expensive. Take the computer system (please) used to process claims for the 420,000 Medicaid clients. The state Department of Health and Human Resources just awarded a contract for a new computer system to do the work.

Price tag: $248 million.

Look at the numbers above. Just three programs involving technology for state government with a total cost of as much as $372 million - enough to buy a nice laptop computer and printer for every household in the state. And that's only a sampling of how much of our tax dollars gets fed into the maw of the technology monster.

This is progress?

Myer can be reached at: Myer@news-register.net.

 
 

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