Governor Jim Doyle has outlined steps his administration has already taken to reduce the state car fleet, and ordered further actions to continue to reduce the size of the fleet and bring greater accountability to the system. The actions were reported in articles in the Madison Sentinel
and Wisconsin State Journal
newspapers."Over the years, state government has bought too many new cars, allowed too many personally assigned vehicles, been too lax about ensuring people pay for personal use of state cars, and too careless about recordkeeping," said Doyle. "But it is a new day in Wisconsin. When I took office, I directed my cabinet members to turn in the cars their predecessors used, and we have cut the number of new car purchases in all of state government by more than 75 percent. Today, I am ordering further steps to protect the taxpayers and bring greater accountability to our state car fleet." The Doyle Administration has already taken the following steps to cut fleet numbers. In FY03 and FY04, a total of 1,770 new vehicles were requested by agencies to replace older vehicles, with an associated cost of $35.2 million. Of these, 1,361 purchases were rejected by the Doyle administration and only 409 were approved, for a savings of $26.3 million to taxpayers.
From January 2003 to January 2004, the overall size of the state car fleet was reduced by 132 cars.
In February, 2003, the Department of Administration signed contracts to implement a consolidated vehicle maintenance system within the department's centralized fleet to take advantage of the state's buying power to negotiate better rates on repairs and maintenance. As a result, DOA saved more than $300,000 on repairs in 2003, an 18-percent reduction from 2002.
Since Department of Administration Secretary Marotta asked state agencies to report on personally assigned vehicles in February, more than 80 personally assigned vehicles have been turned in.
On April 16, the Governor directed his cabinet to take the following additional steps: For all personally assigned vehicles driven less than 16,000 miles in a year, agencies will have 30 days to submit written justification on why those vehicles should be personally assigned. Personally assigned vehicles found to be underused or unnecessary will be revoked.
The Governor has directed the Department of Administration to freeze the purchase of new state cars until a review of all state cars usage is complete, and all agencies have responded to DOA's review of personally assigned vehicles.
Cabinet members and all managers will educate all employees who use state cars about the rules and regulations on the personal use of state vehicles, and to take appropriate actions — including possible disciplinary actions — to ensure that all employees with personally assigned vehicles are paying for any personal use.
The Department of Administration will develop a better system of record keeping for the state fleet, particularly with respect to reporting of personal-vehicle use and for tracking low-mileage vehicles.
The Department of Administration will also continue to pursue consolidation of fleet management as well as maintenance services across state government.
Vehicle records released last week revealed more than half of the 1,700 vehicles assigned to individuals were driven less than 16,000 miles, the threshold below which it's cheaper to pay employees mileage for driving their own cars, the State Journal reported. The report also noted that most of those drivers reported no personal use of their vehicles. Although plausible, the article said, it raises questions about whether such use — limited to commuting — is being fully reported.