The head of the Iowa Finance Authority has been put in charge of overseeing the installation of a statewide fiber optics telecommunications network, partly financed with $96.8 million of certificates of participation.

Ted Chapler, executive director of the authority, was appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad earlier this month after state officials revealed that construction costs for the network had increased by $11 million, to $97 million. The entire network is expected to cost over $200 million before completion.

Richard Vohs, Branstad's press secretary, said the governor "wanted one person to be accountable" for the project, which previously had been supervised by the state Department of General Services. "The governor wants no surprises. He has a lot of confidence in Ted," Vohs said.

The cost increase drew criticism from various officials, including State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, who blamed the cost overrun on "deception or incompetence."

In April, the state issued the COPs to help finance the 2,600-mile network. The notes are expected to be paid off with state appropriations and user payments.

Chapler, who is maintaining his position with the Finance Authority, said the state is contemplating a note issue to help pay for the additional $11 million of network costs.

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