Article

Be Part of the Solution, Not Part of the Problem

As public sector fleets face increasing scrutiny, fleet management must keep the public and officials informed, ensure competitive service costs, and maintain customer service levels while reducing costs.

March 2011, Government Fleet - Feature

by Mike Antich - Also by this author

With the decline in tax revenues, public sector fleets are increasingly scrutinized by management, politicians, and taxpayers. At one time, there was anonymity in being a public sector fleet manager - no more. Years ago, fleet was not high on the radar screen. However, fleet is now dead-center on the radar screen of senior management. In this environment, fleet managers are constantly second-guessed by citizens, politicians, and user departments on the efficacy of their policies.

The sad reality is that these senior managers and politicians think they understand fleet but really don't. Fleet managers are constantly dealing with the newly elected "fleet expert" politician who assumes their fleet is not run efficiently or cost-­effectively. After every election, a fleet manager's expertise is questioned by newly elected officials who are going to "fix" fleet operations. Consequently, fleet managers spend hundreds of hours of labor proving they are fiscally responsible, sometimes to no avail. Even using industry-accepted­ benchmarking to quantify performance, some politicians continue to assume taxpayer dollars are being wasted.

The scrutiny on state and municipal fleet managers isn't just coming from elected officials and taxpayers; it is also internal user departments. In an era of reduced revenues and the need for across-the-board budget cuts, there is growing competition for limited resources between user departments, with fleet in the middle.

Elected officials are similarly being squeezed by lower sales and property tax revenue. They are looking at every opportunity to continue to provide the services and service levels constituents have become accustomed to receiving. Some elected officials have decided on short-term sacrifices of internal services (fleet is an easy target) in order to support short-term constituent services by choosing to outsource more vehicle maintenance and repairs to "lower-priced" private sector vendors.

A Silver Lining to Today's Fiscal Environment

The tax revenue crunch is forcing governments to do a bottom-up evaluation of all services. With revenues down, budgets must still be balanced by law, which means certain services must be reduced. In the minds of some elected officials, it's easy to cut support services, such as those provided by fleet operations. The consensus among fleet managers is that there will be more outsourcing of work due to budget cutbacks. As a result, outsourcing will continue to be an ongoing and recurring topic for public sector fleets. As city, county, and state governments continue to develop financing strategies and look more closely at "what things cost," fleet managers will see a bigger push to outsource services historically performed in-house.

With the heightened possibility of more managed competition, the level of service provided by your fleet needs to be at the lowest cost with the data to prove competitiveness - not just with neighboring fleets, but also with private sector service providers. As fleet manager, you must know the exact cost of your fleet and be able to present it to your management at any time.

In a micro-managed climate, fleet managers also need to do a better job educating elected officials and taxpayers that fleet management is a very complicated profession, requiring expertise in a multitude of areas. The challenge will be for fleet managers to maintain customer service level objectives while cutting costs. One silver lining to the current fiscal environment is that difficult economic times allow for wringing out the previously hard-to-remove­ waste. This presents a great opportunity for fleet managers. It allows them to be perceived by politicians and senior managers as "part of the solution" and not "part of the problem."

Comment On This Story

Name:  
Email:  
Comment: (Maximum 10000 characters)  
Leave this field empty:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.

FleetFAQ

Public Fleet Tracking And Telematics

Amin Amini from Verizon will answer your questions and challenges

View All

Recent Topics

Hello, We are a County Fire District and presently have above ground fuel tanks at 26 Fire Stations. We would like to install an...

View Topic

My agency currently uses live local auction to dispose of surplus assets. We would like to move to on-line. Can anyone give me any...

View Topic

Fleet Documents

1055 Fleet Documents (and counting) to Download!

Sponsored by

A fabricator that manufactures and installs special equipment for vehicles

Read more

Blog

FleetSpeak

Thi Dao
Are Your Drivers Safe?

By Thi Dao
It is probable that distracted drivers will not get caught and will not learn anything until something terrible happens. We know it, and they do too, so it continues happening.

Who Tells Your Story?

By Thi Dao

Managing a Police Fleet

Paul Clinton
Police Vehicles Pushed to the Limit in California

By Paul Clinton
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department conducted its annual evaluation of 2018-model-year police vehicles from Oct. 10 to 13. Agency deputies got behind the wheel of 13 four-wheel vehicles and five motorcycles for the testing.

2018 Police Motorcycles Tested in Michigan

By Paul Clinton

Next-Gen Fleet

Facundo Tassara
Improved Communication (There's an App for That)

By Facundo Tassara
Slack brings all of your communication together in a way that you can sort. Conversations, PDFs, and documents are all be archived and searchable.

Booster Fuels: Bringing the Gas Station to You

By Facundo Tassara

Driving Notes

Paul Clinton
2018 Volvo XC60

By Paul Clinton
The 2018 XC60 arrives as the mid-size sibling of the XC90 in a stylish update that includes a bevy of new safety features, infotainment tech, and a well laid-out cabin.

2018 Mercedes Benz GLS450 4MATIC

By Chris Brown

Nobody Asked Me, But...

Sherb Brown
Ready or Not, Electrification Is Coming

By Sherb Brown
We’re not where we need to be with battery technology and the whole herd seems to be betting that a magical new solution will appear in time to save us all. I sure hope they are right.

Fair and Balanced

By Sherb Brown

STORE