High School Football

Ask how many state vehicles are in the W.Va. fleet and get 3 different answers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state of West Virginia is unable to fully account for the total number of state-owned passenger vehicles in its fleet, according to a legislative audit released today.

Auditors noted that they drew the very same conclusions in a 2009 report: “The Legislative Auditor has determined that there is still no single source which can accurately and fully account for the total number of vehicles in the state’s fleet.”

State auditors recommended changing Division of Motor Vehicles practices for titling and registering state-owned vehicles — at a minimal cost to the state. Doing so would significantly improve the agency’s ability to account for the fleet, auditors told legislators during an interim session today.

Auditors drew their conclusions after requesting and receiving inventory data from the three main state agencies that deal with state-owned vehicles: the Fleet Management Office, the Division of Motor Vehicles and the Board of Risk and Insurance Management.

Each of those reported a different size of the state fleet.

MORE Read the legislative audit report on the state fleet

The Fleet Management Office said 7,648; the Board of Risk and Insurance Management said 12,609; and the Division of Motor Vehicles said 10,504, although the DMV’s inventory included only vehicles with a green state license plate.

Responding to the audit and speaking to legislators, Acting Administration Secretary Mary Jane Pickens said the three agencies were created for different purposes and so different methods of counting vehicles have developed.

“You get a different number of vehicles depending on who you ask. There’s nothing untoward about that,” Pickens said Monday afternoon. “It’s gathered differently because it serves different purposes.”

Each agency also told legislative auditors that their methods of counting state vehicles are imperfect:

Legislators are trying to get a handle on the number of vehicles in the state fleet.
Legislators are trying to get a handle on the number of vehicles in the state fleet.

The Fleet Management Office was established in 2010 to manage all motor vehicles and aircrafts owned or possessed by state government. The agency gathers information in two ways: by obtaining records of all vehicles purchased through the Purchasing Division’s statewide contracts and by keeping track of agencies that use its fueling and maintenance management services.

But the office said there are 37 agencies, including all of higher education and the Parkways Authority, that are exempt from the requirements of the Purchasing Division and often do not use the statewide contract for purchasing vehicles. Those agencies also might not be using the fueling and maintenance management services that the Fleet Management Office provides.

“While Fleet Management’s reported inventory includes vehicles from some of the exempt agencies, there is currently no way to ensure that Fleet Management’s inventory includes all state-owned vehicles,” auditors wrote in their report.

The Legislative Auditor recommended that legislators require each agency to report its fleet holdings to Fleet Management at least once a year. The auditor also recommended that the Legislature require Fleet Management to produce an annual report for the governor and the joint committee on government and finance on the state’s fleet.

The count by the Board of Risk and Insurance Management isn’t perfect either. For instance, BRIM includes heavy equipment and heavy duty vehicles used by state agencies such as the Division of Highways, Department of Agriculture and the Parkways Authority.

Also, the board says it’s possible it is insuring vehicles no longer in state service, particularly if agencies have decommissioned or placed into surplus a vehicle without notifying BRIM of the change. The legislative auditors also identified cases where agencies aren’t properly notifying BRIM of all vehicles in their total fleet.

The DMV keeps track of vehicles with green state license plates, but does not keep track of state vehicles with Class A plates. But the Legislative Auditor’s review of DMV’s inventory indicated that as many as 1,680 of the vehicles listed as having a green state license plate are not state-owned but instead include county public service district vehicles and vehicles used by non-governmental organizations, non-profits, community action programs, cities towns or county commissions.

Even the green-plated vehicles counted by the DMV might not be accurate because there’s no uniform style for each agency to title each of its vehicles: “Alternative spellings and/or abbreviations within an agency’s name lead to its fleet of passenger vehicles being registered under numerous different iterations.”

Recommendations:

The Legislative Auditor suggests the state would experience more accountability if the DMV would establish and implement a consistent syntax for state agencies to title and register their state-owned vehicles.

So, the Legislative Auditor recommended the DMV reissue titles and vehicle registration cards for all state-owned vehicles under a uniform syntax. Going through that process, DMV officials told the Legislative Auditor, would cost an estimated $7,425.

The Legislative Auditor also recommends that the Surplus Property Division require each agency to certify that it has returned its state license plate to the DMV, if applicable, and properly notify BRIM before accepting a vehicle for surplus.

The Legislative Auditor recommended that the Legislature require the Division of Motor Vehicles issue new license plates to each vehicle that has a green state license plate with a new color every two years.

Issuing new license plates for state-owned vehicles would provide the state a cost-effective opportunity for greater transparency and accountability, the auditors concluded. The auditors and DMV estimated that issuing new license plates to each of the vehicles listed as having green state license plates would cost $35,188.

The state computer system wvOASIS also could help keep track of state vehicles and share data between agencies, the Legislative Auditor concluded. “The agency indicated that the Financial Asset reporting system within wvOASIS could accomplish both goals, but that not all agencies currently enter their fleet assets into the system.”

So the Legislative Auditor recommends that the Legislature establish a set of uniform reporting requirements and require all state spending units to report fleet data to the wvOASIS Financial Asset reporting system.





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