Savannah trip bolsters plan to in-source Augusta fleet management

NOTE: A requirement of Augusta’s procurement code was misstated in an article in Friday’s Augusta Chronicle. The code requires the formal solicitation of an unspecified number of competitive bids for purchases of $10,000 or more.


The Chronicle regrets the error.


Augusta could model a new “hybrid” fleet maintenance system similar to one used in Savannah.

Commissioners and city staff who traveled to the coastal city last month reported their findings to a subcommittee Thursday. The trip was part of a push by some commissioners to break Augusta’s 14-year contractual relationship with First Vehicle Services and bring routine vehicle maintenance back in-house.

A negotiated one-year extension of First Vehicle’s contract commissioners approved for 2017 cost taxpayers $2.96 million. The fee does not include parts and other services. Last year Augusta spent a combined $4.8 million with the company.

Savannah’s system has never been outsourced and has a total budget of $5.6 million, with 42 employees and 13 vacancies, city Central Services Director Takiyah Douse said.

The system does use outside providers including contractors to maintain heavy equipment, fire apparatus, body work, glass and perform other repairs.

Like Augusta, Savannah disposes of surplus vehicles and parts on, she said. Police officers with a year on the job there can drive their cars home within a 50-mile radius, she said.

It’s easier to procure parts in Savannah because only three bids are required for purchases up to $25,000, Douse said. Deputy Administrator Chester Brazzell recommended the city reevaluate its procurement processes to make them more efficient.

City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson said she’s already requested staff to examine the total cost of bringing the service in house and how it could structure a hybrid model. Most cities now use a hybrid mix of staff-provided and contracted services, city Capital Projects Manager Maurice McDowell said.

Guilfoyle asked Douse to examine why Georgia State Patrol uses a contract with a chain maintenance shop for its vehicles, and asked Jackson to prepare a multiyear business plan to show the proposed program’s true costs.

Wayne Guilfoyle said after the Savannah visit, he realized the program’s director makes a difference.

“You’ve got to have the right person in the right place,” he said.

In another matter Douse said the city has stepped up the reminder system it uses to ensure vehicles go in for routine service. An audit performed last year revealed many employees skipped the paid-for visits.

Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-2315 or

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Johnny Rio 5 months ago
Commissioner Guilfoyle prudently asked Janice Middlenamesomething Jackson to perform a cost benefit analysis on the proposal for the coming years. What everyone is missing is the city of Savannah is much smaller than Augusta-Richmond County, about 30%, and with far fewer miles for vehicles to travel. That translates into fewer vehicles to maintain. All this is particularly important when you consider Augusta contracting out the work was $800,000 less than smaller Savannah spent. Let's not forget what happened the last time Augusta tried a county run maintenance system. Wrecker companies towing in county vehicles thrived.
Jerry Whitcomb 5 months ago
"Wrecker companies towing in county vehicles thrived."

And the thieving of parts flourished. 
JEAN BURLESON 5 months ago
Contracting-out maintenance services is almost always less expensive than in-house operations (assuming the bid process was conducted properly). Despite the alleged comment by Mr. McDowell, the trend is for cities to contract-out, as they have come to realize the financial benefits of doing so. A true cost-benefit analysis, using data that compares apples-to-apples, will clearly show the fallacy of any argument to convert back to in-house maintenance.  

If Augusta is not satisfied with the current contractor, rebid the contract, include exactly what they want accomplished in the RFP and contract, include penalties for not meeting requirements, and hold the contractor's feet to the fire to perform. Sounds like it is time to change contractors, not change the system.

In addition, hold employees using vehicles, as well as their managers, accountable for bringing in their vehicles for required, paid-for, preventative maintenance services. Not dong so causes more maintenance requirements down the road and becomes a windfall for the maintenance contractor who is paid for services they do not perform (as it is typically paid as a flat rate in the basic contract).

Bringing maintenance back in-house makes no sense.
David Jefferson 5 months ago
There is absolutely no way Augusta can operate the maintenance cheaper than contracting. Any Commissioner that thinks otherwise is a fool. Marion Williams fascination with the Augusta fleet has been disastrous. The hoops they would have to jump through just to get parts through the Procurement process would sideline half the fleet for weeks, and Geri Sams isn't going to give up any of her empire without a fight
Jim Hall 5 months ago
Grow government through internal waste, increased taxes, never ending fees, incompetence, ignorance, over staffing, nepotism and outright thievery. 

So goes  the ARC of No Covenant.
Jerry Whitcomb 5 months ago
We don't have a Covenant.

We have the ARC of the Coven.
Bill Pinot 5 months ago
I wonder which commissioner has a relative that needs an executive position?
JESSE MURGA 5 months ago
Just curious about how much this fact-finding visit to Savannah is costing the taxpayers?  What was the number of personal that made the visit, cost of meals, lodging(?), etc.  Let's figure this into the final price.


Thu, 06/22/2017 - 11:50

Another earthquake reported in Augusta

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