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

Fleet Management And Leasing

Jack Firriolo from Merchants will answer your questions and challenges

View All

 

Public Fleet Tracking And Telematics

Amin Amini from Verizon Connect will answer your questions and challenges

View All

 

Fuel Management

Bernie Kanavagh from WEX will answer your questions and challenges

View All

 

Recent Topics

Hello to all the members I am checking to see if anyone is using a company for GPS/AVL called Fleet Complete (AT&T)? I would like to...

View Topic

We are in the middle of standardizing PM process with all of our technicians. And I'm asking if anyone has a standard pm checklist for...

View Topic

Fleet Documents

1134 Fleet Documents (and counting) to Download!

Sponsored by

Infiniti is one of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.’s two global brands, originally launched as a luxury car brand in the U.S. in 1989.

Read more

Blog

FleetSpeak

Thi Dao
When Are Policies Too Strict?

By Thi Dao
Before writing a policy that will last for years, determine whether it’s the best one. Would a typical employee follow the policy?

What Your Vehicles Say About Your Fleet

By Thi Dao

Managing a Police Fleet

How Chevrolet's Tahoe PPV Differs From its Retail Relative

By Michaela Kwoka-Coleman
For the Chevrolet Tahoe PPV, tires are added to the vehicles that are capable of handling speeds of up to 134 mph and the brakes are adjusted to handle frequent stopping at high speeds.

Police Vehicles Pushed to the Limit in California

By Paul Clinton

Next-Gen Fleet

Facundo Tassara
Vehicle-to-What? — Evolving Vehicle Communication Technologies

By Facundo Tassara
Can vehicle collisions be avoided with vehicle-to-infrastructure or vehicle-to-vehicle technology? Several of the major OEMs think so and are spending billions of dollars a year working on the technology.

Streets of the Future Could Take Automatic Tire Readings

By Facundo Tassara

Driving Notes

Paul Clinton
2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

By Paul Clinton
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a significantly upgraded van that offers a dizzying array of configurations and meaningful improvements designed to improve productivity for delivering packages or hauling passengers.

2018 Ford EcoSport

By Mike Antich

Nobody Asked Me, But...

Sherb Brown
Remembering Sundays in St. Louis, Detroit, and Atlantic City

By Sherb Brown
There is just no better opportunity to network, to learn, and to mingle with the best and the brightest than an in-person fleet event.

Adapting to a Changing Tide

By Sherb Brown

STORE