Report shows government employees skip paid-for vehicle service visits

Results of a study of Augusta’s fleet management operations show many government workers don’t follow maintenance schedules for their taxpayer-funded vehicles.

 

Service requirements – typically an oil change and routine maintenance every 5,000 miles or six months – are “inconsistently followed” by departments, resulting in an estimated $100,000 in additional repairs each year from driver error or abuse.


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The finding was part of a study by former city auditor Cherry Bekaert to help determine whether bringing fleet maintenance in-house could save Augusta money.

The local government has a big fleet – 1,045 vehicles and 1,107 pieces of large equipment – serviced by contractor First Vehicle Services, at a cost last year of $2.9 million, according to a report from the company. Labor, at $1.9 million, constituted the bulk of expense, followed by parts at $497,474.

Commissioners who attended a Thursday fleet management work session were dismayed that employees weren’t taking their vehicles in for routine maintenance.

“We’re paying $3 million for service and we’re not making them take them in?” Commissioner Marion Williams asked.

Earlier this year, Central Services Director Takiyah Douse reported the city would trim $167,393 from its maintenance contract by removing 58 underutilized vehicles from the service contract.

Other findings from the audit showed that fleet vehicles are both duplicated and underutilized across various city departments.

Williams, a longtime proponent of bringing fleet maintenance back in-house, along with two other commissioners praised Fire Chief Chris James’ 2014 move to bring maintenance of fire vehicles back in-house.

“We can do it in-house as well,” Williams said. Commissioners Andrew Jefferson and Sammie Sias said they agreed.

James said he’d nearly halved his 2015 budget for contracted maintenance of $1.3 million to come in at $711,000, while obtaining parts on occasion at less than First Vehicle’s contracted prices.

The numbers don’t currently include eight KME “prototype” fire trucks purchased the year before that have required frequent repairs and prompted the city to terminate a purchase agreement for more of the trucks.

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Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-3215 or susan.mccord@augustachronicle.com.

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Roy Whitley 7 months ago
This is what you get when someone gets to spend  money that never belonged to them in the first place and are not held responsible for spending or abusing it. A perfect example of LESS GUBMINT, more money in MY pocket.
WILLIAM ARNOLD 7 months ago
I agree, these folks just don't want to take the time to take care of their obligations to the people of Richmond County ! ! ! 
David Jefferson 7 months ago
From what I have learned speaking with some of the employees it is not a matter of laziness. A lot of the skips tend to be one of a kind, or not enough of a kind items with no loaners. Put the equipment in and projects stop. Things can be done better and all reports are that the new Central Services Director is making good progress.
Allen Wylds 7 months ago
Why is labor three times as much as parts????
David Jefferson 7 months ago
Parts are wholesale, not retail?
JEAN BURLESON 7 months ago
They are obviously using the wrong company for fleet maintenance or they entered into a flawed contract if in-house would cost less. That is certainly not the experience of the vast majority of cities/counties that have contracted-out their maintenance services. 
Jim Hall 7 months ago
The ARC of No Covenant has its own set of rules for contracts.
Jim Hall 7 months ago
Run to Failure is  the option of the lazy and ill informed.  And none of these peoples should be taking a county owned/citizen owned vehicle home.  Not even the public safety employees.

Data used to justify having a personal cruiser for each deputy is flawed.  A study that had a preset outcome and justification in reverse.

You believe in evolution, so your study only uses data that will support your opinion.

Worked for a man who only needed on data point to create a chart.
David Jefferson 7 months ago
There is no way Augusta can do it for less. There will be more layers of management. They will not have the same buying power as a corporation. They will not pay enough to get qualified employees and will not get rid of the ones that need to go.

I would like an independent analysis of the Fire Department's costs. Are they comparing apples to apples?

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