A state audit found that the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) could save more than $1.7 million through fleet efficiencies such as eliminating use of blended biodiesel, adopting new methods for vehicle remarketing, and optimizing vehicle life cycles to reduce operating costs.

The department has a fleet of 4,718 vehicles, and the fleet manager within its Office of Equipment Management oversees equipment management and works with district managers.

The area with the most in potential savings is reducing vehicle age. Auditors stated that by adopting optimized fleet cycling guidelines, the fleet could save $1.42 million annually in reduced operating costs and better remarketing value.

ODOT currently uses the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) guideline for light vehicles of 6 years or 90,000 miles for replacement, but management was concerned that a single guideline was not optimal. Auditors provided replacement guidelines that range from four years or 48,000 miles for passenger cars and other small vehicles to 11 years or 132,000 miles for utility trucks. They calculated potential savings by looking at cents per mile.

Auditors also said ODOT could increase remarketing revenue by $126,898 annually by adopting the Ohio Dept. of Administrative Services’ method. This would mean moving from district-specific online auctions to larger live auctions in areas of high demand.

Finally, auditors stated that ODOT could save $202,475 annually by eliminating the use of biodiesel, which would reduce unscheduled filter repairs. The DOT previously had to comply with a law that mandated state agencies use biodiesel, a mandate that the governor lifted in April of this year with an effective date of July 1.

Use of B-20 biodiesel year-round has led to increases in vehicle breakdowns and maintenance expenses, ODOT leadership and staff told auditors. It is also more expensive, with the department paying $7.8 million in increased cost per gallon for biodiesel since the mandate was created in 2007.

Gelling during cold weather led to breakdowns and unscheduled filter replacements. Between 2009 and 2012, ODOT spent between $202,000 and $463,000 annually on these filter replacements. The department has been reducing its biodiesel use because of the maintenance problems. Auditors pointed to various state agencies using a lower blend of biodiesel in the winter months as a way to prevent the problem, but recommended the department eliminate its use entirely to save on maintenance costs.

In ODOT’s official response to the audit, department management agreed with the findings.

The audit was released in June. To view the full report, click here.

Originally posted on Government Fleet