back to article Speaking in Tech: The worst government IT deal of ALL TIME

It's the eighth episode of our enterprise tech podcast – and it's a special one. The podcast is split up into two parts: in the first part, your hosts interview a journalist investigating the State of West Virginia's absurd purchase of drastically oversized Cisco routers – it's an incredible story you have to hear to believe. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They went and blew the "homeland security"- wad on CISCO BigIron ... instead of more drones, spying lampposts, trigger-happy overpaid and underemployed para-military police aka "moar dakka!".

    Good Choice, CISCO gear never killed anyone!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      the UK

      Has the monopoly on worst IT projects.

    2. asdf

      +1 on UK

      This was bad but at a total cost of $24 million it is a drop in the bucket compared to UK guv IT projects. Hell wouldn't the MPs spend that much on expensive junkets to FIJI to do discovery?

    3. The First Dave

      Actually, we lose several techies every year to improperly fitted routers making unexpected descents from their racks - usually from the direct impact, but sometimes just from getting fatally tangled in the cables. Please show some respect for their misfortune.

  2. asdf

    wait a minute

    I though red states were always responsible stewards of the tax payers money and would fight against taking handout grants from the federal government? Once again a Red State against government spending unless its for their state/city/district.

    1. LB45
      Black Helicopters

      Re: wait a minute

      WV is run by the blue team. Remember all the .Gov largesse projects named for Sen. Byrd? He who had to be carried out of the U.S. Senate feet first?

      He wasn't just blue because he stopped breathing.

      1. asdf

        Re: wait a minute

        WV hasn't went to a Democrat since Slick Willy was running. I guess by 200 they finally got the memo that Dems had passed the Civil Rights bill and then they flipped like the rest of the right wing leaning states.

  3. Edward Groenendaal


    The Cisco sales person gets commission of just under $1m for a sale like that. Pretty big incentive to upsize. Not quite enough to retire on by itself. But throw in other deals and stock etc and I guess it was enough. I think Cisco should have some responsibility for this when dealing with folks who don't know what they need.

    Fail for Cisco management not catching this and quoting for a more appropriate system and not taking advantage of the gullible.

    1. Baldie

      Re: Retired?

      Maybe the retirement was not the choice of the salesperson. Though if that were the case you would have thought Cisco would let it be known that they had asked him to leave. And what steps they had taken to ensure that such outrageous mis-selling doesn't happen again.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Retired?

      If the CISCO sales person have the same retirement plan that I have (muahahahah!), then the retirement is calculated as 80% of the earned income in the year one retires (at or after some specific date ... unfortunately) this deal alone is worth a USD 800000/year retirement, not bad for a person who is not a bankster!

  4. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Why didn't they sell off the extras?

    @asdf, you're thinking of libertarians. Both Democrats and Republicans are virtually identical, favoring large, expensive, and intrusive government. They just split hairs on exactly what they want to spend the money (that the gov't doesn't have) on and how they want to extend government control, and blame any and all problems on the "other" party. (For you Brits, Democrats are "blue" and Republicans "red", but are effectively a single party compared to the actually different political parties you have in the UK.)

    Anyway... this whole situation is pretty ridiculous. What gets me is, OK, the district made a bad purchasing decision. Why aren't they at least selling off the hundreds of extra switches they have sitting around?

    1. NickyD

      Re: Why didn't they sell off the extras?

      (For you Brits, Democrats are "blue" and Republicans "red", but are effectively a single party compared to the actually different political parties you have in the UK.)

      Um, you'd get plenty of arguments here about that.

  5. daveeff

    safe search is ON

    OK, so I know it was foolish but I had to google images bacon sex log.


    1. Knieriemen

      Re: safe search is ON

      We have a picture of the Bacon Sex Log here:

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I particularly like ""I think we made the right decision,". He would since he can't be fired (at least not very easily). Normal people would have done some kind of needs analysis (tedious but in this case very necessary) before specifying anything but we all know just how lazy assed government gets at this level. No doubt some flunky received kickbacks for this.

  7. Mike Powers

    This was probably the cheaper option

    Knowing how the government does things, it probably cost *less* to do it this way.

    If you tried to buy smaller, cheaper equipment that was sized for the intended user, there probably wouldn't be anything on the Approved Equipment List. Which means you need to go through the process to get the item you want added to the list so you're allowed to buy one. Hopefully there's someone on the Approved Vendor List that sells one, otherwise you need to find a company that does sell it and get *them* added to the list. If you're very lucky there are at least three companies that sell the item you want, allowing you to prepare a competitive bid package, but probably there isn't so you need another special justification to sole-source the procurement.

    So now you've had three separate review-and-approval processes, and you're ready to buy the product you want. But, since your supplier is now, they haven't gone through the supplier qualification process that's required of anyone who wants to sell--HEY YOU, WAKE UP BACK THERE! NO SLEEPING!--anyway, if you want to sell things to the government there is a specific procedure you have to be certified as able to follow, even if you've been selling things for thirty years.

    And all of these steps are important and necessary to make sure that we aren't spending Taxpayer Dollars on junk. When you say "I don't want the government to waste my money!" you need to be aware that "we will therefore spend a great deal of money conducting extensive review and oversight to ensure that money spent on hardware is not being wasted" is a valid response.

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