Agencies Called Inconsistent in Tracking Vehicle Costs

Federal agencies spent about $3.4 billion in fiscal year 2015 to keep and operate almost 450,000 vehicles but they are inconsistent in tracking how much those vehicles are used and thus whether some are excess, GAO has said.

A report said that over 2011-2015 agencies spent $1.6 billion to purchase some 64,500 passenger vehicles and light trucks through GSA, with DoD, DHS, Agriculture Justice and Interior accounting for nine-tenths.

In looking at 2015 at the Navy within DoD, CBP within DHS and the Natural Conservation Service within Agriculture, the GSA found that only the Navy applied criteria such as mileage for individually justifying all its 3,700 vehicles. NRCS determined utilization rates for all but 9 percent of its 6,223 vehicles; for the rest, officials cited a lack of emphasis by Agriculture.

In contrast, CBP did not determine utilization of 81 percent of 2,300 selected vehicles even though the vehicles did not meet DHS’s minimum mileage criteria. Officials told the GAO that it was difficult to collect usage information manually and that the agency currently is installing automatic tracking devices in many of its vehicles.

GAO did not estimate potential savings but noted that CBP and NRCS together incurred $13.5 million in depreciation and maintenance costs in fiscal year 2015 for vehicles with unknown utilization rates. “While these costs may not equal the cost savings agencies derive from eliminating underutilized vehicles, without corrective action, agencies are incurring expenses to retain vehicles without determining if they are utilized,” it said.