York County Manages its Fleets Into Savings

March 2007, Government Fleet - Feature

Chaos ruled in York County, Pa., at least so far as fleet managementwas concerned, according to Tom Brant, county fleet administrator. “There are 60 different county departments,” Brant noted. “Of that, 28 departments have vehicles. So you can imagine 28 different departments coming up with their own service areas, car washes, body repair, things like that.”

Brant added, “There was no centralization, or even standardization as far as the type of vehicle. Everyone bought what they felt like.”

According to the form detailing the reasons for which Brant was nominated for Public Works Administrator of the Year, he started working for York County as director of parks in 1994. Since then, he oversaw the expansion of the park vehicle/equipment fleet from a two-car garage service area (with one state-certified mechanic) througha three-bay service area (in 1994) with one lift to the current 4,000-square-foot, four-lift service area with three Pennsylvania state-certified mechanics.

When asked about resistance to consolidating all the vehicles and services under one umbrella, Brant said, “We had some reinforcement from the top to bring the whole thing to fruition. People were actually looking forward to this. Once we were rolling it out, everyone was very receptive to it.”

It Began with a Task Force
In 1997 and again in 2004, the York County Board of Commissioners appointed a special task force of community members and leaders to examine the county government. Their findings stated, “Due to the costs of purchasing, maintaining, and disposition of the vehiclesand equipment fleet, there is presently no overall system to managethese assets.”

In December 2004, the current board assigned to Brant (who became the county’s first acting fleet manager) the task of implementing a comprehensive fleet management program encompassing all 61 County departments.

Brant began working with the county’s risk manager and, in March 2005, formed a fleet management advisory committee to establish best practices within the county’s operations. The committee was made up of the county’s top seven vehicle users. “We gave everybody a voice for information to flow up and to flow down,” said Brant. He createdthe county’s first comprehensive fleet management program.

Fleet Management Policy Adopted
In July 2005, the board adopted a fleet management policy that implemented a “cradle-to-grave” program for more than 200 motor vehicles and more than 100 units of other motorized equipment.This action was particularly important since the value of some park tractors and mowers exceeds the value of a vehicle.

At this time,York became the first county government in Pennsylvania with a fleet management program. In October 2005,Bruce Mitchell, the county loss control service manager, stated in Insurance Matters newsletter that, “York County is again a leader in safety within county government. With the support of the commissioners, a fleet administration program has been developed.”

Next, a fleet management directive manual was developed that defined and clarified fleet policy, restraining the board fromadopting new individual policies during public meetings. For example, one fleet directive defines the purchase of all vehicles and specifies the exterior color must be white, while another directive requires monthly mileage reports to the fleet manager. “In addition,” Brant said, “the board of county commissioners has insisted all agencies get their vehicles serviced at the county garage.”

The York County, Pa., service shop has expanded to a 4,000-sq.-ft., four-lift service areawith three Pennsylvania state-certified mechanics.

Each Department has an Administrator
The fleet management policy identified a representative from each department as departmental fleet administrator (DFA), to convey departmental fleet information directly to or from the fleetmanager. The county has 28 departments with vehicles and 33 departments without vehicles (personnel in those departments use their private vehicles for county business, and they also fallwithin this fleet policy). In addition, the policy called for four themed quarterly informational/safety meetings with the DFAs (the first meeting took place January 2006) and a monthly e-mail communications called Tips & Tidbits.

In June 2005, Brant received approval to develop a job description for a full-time fleet manager. In December, the board approvedthe creation of a new county department of fleet management.
Tom Brant, York County fleet administrator, spearheaded the county’s first-ever fleetmanagement system. He is reponsible for the county’s 200+ vehicles.

Managed Fleet a Financial Success
The fleet management program has already proven a financial success. The county has realized overall lower insurance costs, reduced departmental tasks and transactional costs, and leveraged favorablecash and quantity discounts. Officials expect to see continued financial benefits as the program matures, but more important,they will provide safer and more reliable vehicles to transport county employees and clients.

A pool vehicle fleet began January 2006 with immediate success. The following April, a fleet manager reporting directly to Brant was hired. Brant continues to provide oversight leadership and maintains power of attorney to sign all registrations and titles.

The county commissioners’ 2006 State of the County address stated “Fleet Management: A comprehensive fleet management program was developed and implemented in 2005, including fleet management directives for the operation of the county’s 200-plus vehicles. Allcounty vehicles are monitored for mileage and condition and scheduled for replacement on a managed basis. The York County Fleet Management Program is being considered as a prototype for counties across the Commonwealth.” An annual report is underway to capture fleet management’s benchmarking of successes and accomplishments.

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