Operations

Audit Questions USDA's Vehicle, Fuel Card Use

September 16, 2015, by Thi Dao

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) can save $6.2 million by reducing its underutilized vehicles and should better monitor use of its fleet cards, according to a recent audit conducted by the Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The audit of the USDA's fleet card transactions stated the Office of Procurement and Property Management (OPPM) did not adequately structure the USDA’s fleet charge card program or provide USDA employees with sufficient guidance to administer it.

The fleet charge card program covers 40,576 vehicles and equipment, of which 35,211 are passenger-carrying vehicles. Vehicles and equipment are used to support USDA’s missions, including food safety inspections, agricultural research, fire suppression, and law enforcement.

The lack of oversight led the USDA to retain cars that were potentially unnecessary including 1,133 vehicles that had no fleet card transactions and 4,703 vehicles that were driven less than 5,000 miles in a year, according to the audit.

The audit also found that fleet cards were not adequately monitored, including potentially excessive fuel purchases totaling $1.2 million. Some irregularities include four or more fuel purchases per day on the same card and fuel purchases costing double the average dollar amount of the card’s transactions. Local fleet program coordinators are tasked with monitoring fleet card use, but those responsible for a higher number of cards than the average of 92 had the highest rate of questionable fuel activities, the report stated.

Finally, auditors found that 41 fleet cards had much higher single purchase limits than needed.

In response, the OPPM will require agencies to perform annual vehicle use surveys. The USDA recently conducted a utilization study that determined that average annual mileage is 6,100 miles. This will be used as a baseline to determine underutilized vehicles, excluding special use vehicles. OPPM will also strengthen fleet fuel card monitoring.

The OIG conducted the audit from May 2014 to August. Read the full audit here.

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