Somebody’s always counting, whether our state is or not

Everyone, at times, claims the federal government cannot count. That is, it squanders money in more ways than anyone can count.
There’s some truth to that, but, estimating by how many times our state keeps running afoul of federal audits, it’s marginal. Matter of fact, we are beginning to think when you sign federal documents that are incorrect, if the fees, interest and payments don’t get you, then a U.S. attorney will.
Or when a federal audit determines not all the money it reimbursed you for your bills was  covered by its grant, you’re going to be on a big hook.
This week, the Legislature approved a transfer of funds from the state treasurer’s unclaimed property fund to the general fund to cover a $4.7 million check (hook?) to the federal government for such an error.
In 2010, the state received $126.3 million in federal stimulus funds for expanding broadband internet access.
Though few have positive memories of the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program, most at least thought all was forgotten and forgiven.
The project aimed to connect most of the state’s libraries, schools, county courthouses and other public facilities with high-speed access to the internet.
Shortly after its launch an unease about some of the spending became apparent. Even then legislative auditors took exception with how these funds were being spent.
Updates from the Division of Homeland Security and Homeland Management, which oversaw the project, and Frontier Communications, the state’s primary partner on this project, were ambiguous.
The vast majority of state residents never did benefit from this mish mash of disjointed fiber upgrades.
Sen. Randy Smith, R-Tucker, wants to pursue reimbursement from Frontier for this $4.7 million or some of it. Though the state attorney general is going to evaluate that possibility, in legal speak, Frontier as a sub-recipient of these funds is not liable to the federal government for repaying them.
Some will  also want to turn this into a political mudball to hurl at the two last Democratic administrations or the current state Senate’s president, employed by Frontier then.
But overall, no political party has a monopoly on the kinds of dysfunctional, if not corrupt, that epitomizes the  manner in which public funds are tracked in West Virginia.
In this case of overpowered and unused routers, along with broadband cable in excess of what was needed and ridiculously overpaid, redundant consultants who achieved little, if anything, we’re not surprised.
To date, our state continues to fail to hold anyone accountable for such sloppy, if not reckless, spending of public funds.
But it’s apparent, if we don’t keep track of our spending somebody else will.  And there will be consequences.

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