Whether you manage a small-town fleet or one as large as New York City, one fact remains true: communication is everything. Keith Kerman, NYC chief fleet officer and deputy commissioner, Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), knows the more you cooperate with other agencies, the better off and more effective you’ll be.
NYC’s fleet was operated independently by powerful and hugely important agencies like the Police Department, Fire Department, Department of Sanitation, Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Protection, and Parks. According to Kerman, there are over 50 agencies with fleet operations in city government. One of the biggest challenges he came across as a fleet manager was getting them all to see that sharing best practices and breaking down silos would only make them stronger.
“Agencies tend to do things their own way; they keep their resources close and oversight as far away as they can. My role was to disband the silos, introduce shared servicing, set common strategies and initiatives, and create a single fleet program,” he said.
To do this, he created a Fleet Federation group and set up meetings to get the agencies working together. Up to 17 agencies participate in every meeting, tackling topics like relationship management, building stronger relationships between agencies, and pushing initiatives that will benefit each entity.
By relying on data, Kerman has been able to reduce the role of culture and personality and focus on performance and achievement.
“Every day, agencies now service directly thousands of vehicles for other agencies. This type of in-government shared servicing was once seen as a bridge way too far,” he said.
Other efficiencies have emerged, including:
- Specifying fleet units to be more multi-functional: The Parks Department used to rely on seasonal water and leaf vacuum trucks, and dedicated dump trucks used mostly for ballfield seasons to transport clay. To get better use of the fleet, Kerman has shifted to multi-purpose general work trucks, buying plows, portable water tanks, portable salt spreaders, and lift-gates on all pickups and small dumps. The Parks shops developed ways to collect leaves with multi-purpose dump trucks and got rid of stand-alone leaf vacuums.
- Implementing an innovative strategic parts partnership: Fleet has established a contract for a company to manage its parts rooms, supply all parts under strict performance guidelines, and take all inventory risk. Parts procurement and inventory management was one of the biggest challenges in Kerman’s first decade in fleet management.
“One full hour of our two-hour weekly management meeting was spent hunting down late parts for out-of-service vehicles,” he explained. “Real-time auto parts delivery makes sense in the current age where we can all go online, order just about anything, and have it delivered immediately. We are also eliminating waste, loss, and potential theft of parts in large storehouses. We re-assigned all the staff to other roles within fleet. We have over 800,000 parts delivered a year through this program. Out-of-service numbers have declined, and inventory risk has been eliminated.”