CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More than half of West Virginia’s state vehicle fleet doesn’t meet minimum mileage requirements as set out in state law, a legislative audit concluded.

The Legislative Auditor determined, based on reasons submitted by agency leaders, that many agencies can justify keeping the vehicles for employees’ use, despite the low mileage. But the Legislative Auditor said the agencies should go through the proper procedure and apply for exemptions.

“Based on the reason(s) provided for why vehicles were under-utilized, it is the Legislative Auditor’s opinion that these vehicles in many cases would appear to be necessary for state operations, and for the reason(s) provided would not be able to meet the utilization requirement. Still, the agencies need to submit exemptions for approval by the Fleet Management Office to determine that the vehicles are necessary.”

MORE: Read the statewide fleet study.

Legislative rules call for state vehicles to be used a minimum of 1,100 miles per month.

Of the vehicles that were eligible to be counted by the Fleet Management Office, there were 5,868 vehicles required to meet the minimum mileage requirement.

Of those, 3,135 — or 53.42 percent — did not.

Agencies are supposed to request an exemption for vehicles considered under-utilized.

Some of the total 7,364 state vehicles state vehicles under the Fleet Management office could not be counted because of erroneous mileage information, no mileage information provided or an exemption from the mileage requirement.

Agencies provided a variety of reasons in response to a survey by the Legislative Auditor.

Some said vehicles were used daily, but the use of the vehicle is in such a limited area that it was unlikely for the vehicle to meet the minimum required mileage. Vehicles in this category could include those used only on a college campus, correctional facility, or used to transport mail.

Others reported not meeting the minimum mileage requirement because of various staffing issues such as unfilled positions, a temporary duty change or extended medical leave.

Others were specialty or seasonal use vehicles such as transport vans, snowplows, or heavy equipment.

Of all agencies surveyed,  the Department of Transportation had the most overall vehicles — 1,426 — that did not meet the minimum mileage requirement.

Transportation Secretary Tom Smith provided a written response to the Legislative Auditor:

“Vehicle usage is dependent on the seasonal nature of the work as well as the fact that a vehicle will typically be used to transport a crew to a job site and return at the end of the day. Work crews do not necessarily travel long distances to the job sites and once there the vehicle sits for the rest of the day.

“Additionally, some vehicles are assigned to positions that are vacant and won’t be used until the positions are filled. The Division of Highways will investigate the use of vehicles  on the list and request waivers from the usage requirement or reassign the vehicles as appropriate.”

The Legislative Auditor identified 392 vehicles spread over multiple agencies that had zero miles reported during a 6-month review period. The Legislative Auditor specifically asked why those vehicles had not been driven at all.

The Military Affairs and Public Safety had the highest number of zero miles driven reported to the Fleet Management Office with 183.

“Many factors contributed to this matter,” Military Affairs and Public Safety Secretary Jeff Sandy said in a written response.

“Based on DMAPS research, the most significant reason was vehicles waiting to be disposed of through surplus property. An example is the Homeland Security van your office observed, that after two
months is still waiting for disposal.”

House Speaker Tim Armstead asked about the origin of the minimum mileage requirement. Denny Rhodes, director of the Post Audit Division, said his team had asked about that but no one seemed certain.

 

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