Staying Competitive: San Diego Right-Sources Its Fleet

Right-sourcing, or finding the right balance of in-house maintenance services, outsourced services, and even insourcing, is the best way to stay competitive and cost-effective.

March 2012, Government Fleet - Cover Story

by Thi Dao - Also by this author

At a Glance

When analyzing fleet efficiency, consider:

  • Which services can be outsourced, and how much those services cost in the private sector.
  • Which services can be insourced.
  • Whether equipment for specific services is used often.
  • The safety statistics of certain functions.

Outsourcing is a scary term. It can mean a risk to your department, your employees, and your job. But it doesn't have to be that way. When Government Fleet asks fleet managers what services they outsource, some automatically say, "none." A bit of prodding will get the real answer out: transmission work, heavy-duty equipment work, overflow work, etc. Outsourcing certain functions is a part of running an effective fleet maintenance program, and finding the right balance of what to outsource, what to keep in-house, and even what to insource is key to running a successful shop. We'll call it right-sourcing, and it's the best way to stay competitive with the private sector.

John Clements knows all about right-sourcing. As deputy director of the fleet services division at the City of San Diego, he led the fleet team to win a managed competition for fleet functions, including maintenance, acquisition, and administrative services. This is the second bid public sector employees have won under Clements' leadership -- in 1997, while Clements was fleet manager at San Diego County, his team won the managed competition for fleet ­maintenance.

John Clements, deputy director, Fleet Division, City of San Diego.
John Clements, deputy director, Fleet Division, City of San Diego.

Clements talks about why his teams proposed certain functions for outsourcing, and how for the City, managed competition was an opportunity to right-source, create efficiencies, and start over.

Winning the Bid

Two employee teams within the fleet division had been set up -- one to develop a statement of work, and the other to create the proposal.

"The employees were part of the process -- it's not just a management driven process," Clements said.

Clements and the teams examined each service. The fleet division, like all other bidders, was able to look through the RFP, ask questions, and receive official published answers from the Purchasing Department, which managed the competition.

The bid team worked on the entire process, while specially assigned teams worked on specific processes. "We needed to decide if the current organization structure worked for us," Clements said. "We ultimately redesigned our whole organization."

The final proposal included plans to outsource parts management, towing, and heavy tire repair; insource certain functions; and consolidate fleet facilities. The fleet division expects to save taxpayers an estimated $4.4 million annually, or $22 million over the five-year life of the proposal.
As of February, the fleet division's proposal had not yet been fully implemented.

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