Forum Thread

Why a one-room West Virginia library runs a $20,000 Cisco router

highfloydelity 7,878 410 February 26, 2013 at 07:46 AM
Why a one-room West Virginia library runs a $20,000 Cisco router [arstechnica.com]

Yes, this library has a Cisco 3945 router.
Marmet, West Virginia is a town of 1,500 people living in a thin ribbon along the banks of the Kanawha River just below Charleston. The town's public library is only open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. It's housed in a small building the size of a trailer, which the state of West Virginia describes as an "extremely small facility with only one Internet connection." Which is why it's such a surprise to learn the Marmet Public Library runs this connection through a $15,000 to $20,000 Cisco 3945 router intended for "mid-size to large deployments," according to Cisco.

In an absolutely scathing report (PDF) [wv.us] just released by the state's legislative auditor, West Virginia officials are accused of overspending at least $5 million of federal money on such routers, installed indiscriminately in both large institutions and one-room libraries across the state. The routers were purchased without ever asking the state's libraries, cops, and schools what they needed. And when distributed, the expensive routers were passed out without much apparent care. The small town of Clay received seven of them to serve a total population of 491 people... and all seven routers were installed within only .44 miles of each other at a total cost of more than $100,000.

....

As for that $5+ million the state could have saved, it would have paid for 104 additional miles of fiber.

I remember hearing about this a while ago and I thought there was a thread here but I didn't find one.

Who bears the lions share of the blame here? Cisco for putting forth a plan that they knew was overkill? The state for not properly reviewing the proposal? The process for not properly allowing other bids?

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#31
Conservatives should at least feel good that all of this excess spending is ending up in the pockets of corporations, which ultimately ends up with the people.
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#32
Quote from paperboy05 View Post :
In the report it mentions an Excel attachment showing the requirements. I'm curious what that attachment actually says and how specific it got.

But, yes, if the Cisco rep was misleading in terms of what the supposed requirements were, he deserves blame just as the GIT does. The State should have had measures in place to prevent this in the first place. Perhaps this is the even they needed to do something.
It seems it was mishandled all over. I believe the biggest problem was not allowing for other bids. I'm not entirely clear how this particular "bid" process went and how other companies didn't have time to compete. Reading the PDF didn't really help me understand it either; though I skimmed some parts so I may have missed it.

Quote from Lilian View Post :
Conservatives should at least feel good that all of this excess spending is ending up in the pockets of corporations, which ultimately ends up with the people.
The only kind of wealth redistribution that is A-OKAY .. Thumbup
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Last edited by highfloydelity February 26, 2013 at 01:28 PM. Reason: typo
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#33
Quote from Lilian View Post :
Conservatives should at least feel good that all of this excess spending is ending up in the pockets of corporations, which ultimately ends up with the people.
Which people?

Quote from highfloydelity View Post :
The only kind of wealth redistribution that is A-OKAY .. Thumbup
Why is it A-OKAY?

Or is this a sarcastic attack against conservatives? Oh I get it...
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Last edited by paperboy05 February 26, 2013 at 01:20 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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#34
Quote from paperboy05 View Post :
Why is it A-OKAY?

Or is this a sarcastic attack against conservatives? Oh I get it...
Specifically conservatives? No. Directed towards any and all people who complain about public handouts whilst ignoring the handouts that we give to big businesses (who are already plenty profitable).
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#35
Quote from highfloydelity View Post :
Specifically conservatives? No. Directed towards any and all people who complain about public handouts whilst ignoring the handouts that we give to big businesses (who are already plenty profitable).
Fair enough, apologies.
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#36
No one cares. Period. Personally, when you make a decision to spend (or do anything, really), it's a cost/benefit proposition - how much do I need, how much does it cost, and is that acceptable? Why do you ask these questions to yourselves? Because you have a vested interest in the issue. Here, no-one cares - it's not *their* money (explicitly anyway), so why go the extra mile and think - does a 3 day a week library need a $20k router to serve a handful of people, or will the $80 Staples analog work just as well? fark it, that would take more time and I have no impetus to care.
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#37
Quote from highfloydelity View Post :
Do those "in-the-know" bear any sense of responsibility? Not legally, of course, but morally or societally? That Cisco rep had to know this solution was overkill. Their boss had to know it was overkill too but they both saw the $$ and didn't care. Wealth redistribution at it's finest (worst?).



This was laziness all around. The Cisco rep was being lazy too and just threw together the simplest plan they could think of: buy all the best shit we got that gets me the biggest commission check.
Blaming the cisco rep is hard. You have competing responsibilities. The responsibility of making the most money they can for their company is both legal and potentially moral. The responsibility to not take advantage is purely moral in this case. Cisco has the choice of serving customers well and going for the long term repeat business, or extracting what they can when they can. I don't know their stance. The sales person should be fired if they are trying to be a "good" business that treats it's customers well.
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Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.

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#38
lol - the annual smartnet costs for that router is more then the hardware that they actually need.
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#39
Quote from Frogstar View Post :
For a state-level issue? Huh
Absolutely...we deserve the government we elect.

For years we have tolerated the federal government's bribery of state governments to federal bidding. For example...Obama using Medicaid expansion to compel states to adopt policies it wouldn't otherwise enact except for the threat of losing all Medicaid funding.

Transportation dollars the same thing.

So, yeah...Obama, with regard to Medicaid spending, is putting states in the classic prisoners dilemma posture. Under current law, every state that refuses Medicaid expansion will lose its share of tax contributions for the federal subsidies in the expansion — billions yearly that will go to those states that do cave in.

Additionally, what we see in this thread's example is yet another instance of wasteful stimulus spending or spending for the sake of spending.
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#40
Quote from jplayland View Post :
Blaming the cisco rep is hard. You have competing responsibilities. The responsibility of making the most money they can for their company is both legal and potentially moral. The responsibility to not take advantage is purely moral in this case. Cisco has the choice of serving customers well and going for the long term repeat business, or extracting what they can when they can. I don't know their stance. The sales person should be fired if they are trying to be a "good" business that treats it's customers well.
Cisco may have an issue now because the state can decide to bar them from bidding on any future possible contracts. That probably won't happen but it's on the table.

Quote from jonsmith74 View Post :
Additionally, what we see in this thread's example is yet another instance of wasteful stimulus spending or spending for the sake of spending.
I don't necessarily agree. I don't believe the project was a total waste of money. The state, however, bungled the project and could have gotten a lot more benefit out of the funding.
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#41
Quote from ConservativeNYer View Post :
A better analogy: A 75 year old grandmother goes to the car dealership and asks for a car to use once or twice a week to go to the grocery store. She has a ton of money and is ignorant about cars. The salesman sells her a Maserati.
Yea but Grandma looks cool as fark riding around in a Maserati. 99.999% of the people who buy a Maserati don't "need" a Maserati. But it does still add some level of utility to your life because it's enjoyable to own and drive. This router does not add ANYTHING to the user experience. I'd have bought these places a few Asus RT-N16s and dropped Tomato in them.
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#42
Quote from shhaggy View Post :
Yea but Grandma looks cool as fark riding around in a Maserati. 99.999% of the people who buy a Maserati don't "need" a Maserati. But it does still add some level of utility to your life because it's enjoyable to own and drive. This router does not add ANYTHING to the user experience. I'd have bought these places a few Asus RT-N16s and dropped Tomato in them.
Haha, okay, it wasn't a perfect analogy, but my point is, I think a salesman has a moral obligation to not sell a customer something that customer so clearly doesn't need and won't receive any benefit from.
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#43
Anyone ever think its just Housed there its a router, it could be handling traffic for a million other state things not just that small 1 room library.

Its likely that its was cheaper to put in in a place the State already owned or did not have to spend money on and let it do the work. Because in the main Server/router data center there was no room.

This may infact be a positive.
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#44
Quote from ConservativeNYer View Post :
Haha, okay, it wasn't a perfect analogy, but my point is, I think a salesman has a moral obligation to not sell a customer something that customer so clearly doesn't need and won't receive any benefit from.
I agree.... to some degree. I think that there are sectors of commerce where the seller has so much more knowledge, expertise, and education than the average consumer that yes, they do have a moral obligation to fully divulge all of the pertinent information and not to sell the customer something that isn't in their best interest. IT sales is a good example of this, and so too is banking. It's unreasonable to expect the average consumer to understand as much about routers or ARMs such that you can hard-sell your most profitable products.

Cars, though, I think are a little bit different. I think the average consumer does understand that any car will get you from a to b and I think the things that get upsold are more about luxury and comfort. It's not 'wrong' to sell Grandma the nicest model when she only needs a Corolla IMO, you're selling her on power, leather seats, smooth ride, etc. These are things that anyone would understand and can decide for themselves if they want. But it's wrong to sell her a $3000 gaming PC when she just surfs the net and checks email, by telling her about all the advantages of faster memory or more processing power without explaining what those things mean in practicality.
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#45
Quote from ConservativeNYer View Post :
Haha, okay, it wasn't a perfect analogy, but my point is, I think a salesman has a moral obligation to not sell a customer something that customer so clearly doesn't need and won't receive any benefit from.
Just remember morals aren't universal. Yours aren't going to be identical to mine and they may be way different than the salesman's.
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