An evaluation of vehicles owned and operated by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS) Division of Law Enforcement recommended the division consolidate the fleet currently managed by three different sections. Evaluators said while DPS has a vision for centralized fleet management, it does not have a plan; they recommended the DPS develop a strategic plan and proposal to implement a centralization program for its 2,398 law enforcement vehicles.

The report, dated April 22, focuses on DPS law enforcement vehicles managed by three sections: 2,209 by State Highway Patrol, 178 by Alcohol Law Enforcement, and 11 by State Capitol Police. The report claims while each of the three sections has components of a fleet management system, none are comprehensive. The report evaluated these sections based on four best practice areas: policies and procedures, management of vehicle utilization data, financial management, and vehicle replacement and acquisition.

Evaluators pointed out that inconsistent and non-specific policies and procedures, including for take-home vehicles, cost of the State in additional fuel and accelerated maintenance schedules. They wrote that the three sections managing the vehicles cannot determine fleet size and mix or if vehicles are being used efficiently. Evaluators also noted that the three sections do not have annual vehicle replacement plans, preventing them from determining budget requirements for replacement vehicles.

The report recommends DPS develop uniform policies and procedures, identify a fleet management system needed for tracking vehicles, develop a chargeback system for cost recovery, and develop a plan for vehicle acquisition, disposal, and replacement training.

DPS estimates that establishing the centralized fleet program will cost at least $12 million, including the cost of implementing a fleet software system, developing and operating a central depot, and paying for other administrative costs. Evaluators recommended DPS create a formal strategic plan to verify these numbers and submit a proposal by March 1, 2014.

In a written response to the evaluation, Kieran Shanahan, secretary, DPS, said the DPS agreed with evaluators’ review of the current condition of the fleet management program. However, she stated that DPS’ approach to implementing best practices is to involve all eight fleets within the department, rather than the three highlighted in the report. Further, she stated that the DPS’ first and main goal is to obtain an FMIS system, which she said is essential to implementing the best practices goals mentioned.

In 2011, Governor Perdue ordered a consolidation and reorganization of the executive branch, which led to creation of the DPS. As part of the reorganization, DPS was directed to centralize its fleet.

The evaluation is the second of a series on North Carolina law enforcement motor vehicles by the Program Evaluation Division of the North Carolina General Assembly. The first evaluation focused on vehicles operated by the State Bureau of Investigation in the Department of Justice, recommending stronger reporting and management of vehicles. The Program Evaluation Division performed this evaluation after its 2011-12 reports on motor fleet management prompted legislative interest in law enforcement vehicles. Earlier reports on the overall fleet recommended the implementation of a state-wide fleet management system, implementation of telematics, and centralization of fleet management.

To view the full report and response in PDF format, visit the North Carolina Program Evaluation Division site.