The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report in July that found that select federal agencies are only partially using fleet management best practices, including maintaining a well-designed fleet management system, analyzing lifecycle cost information, and optimizing fleet size and composition.

GAO looked at the Departments of Agriculture (USDA); Homeland Security (DHS); the Interior (Interior); and Veterans Affairs (VA); the U.S. Air Force (Air Force); and the Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps).

Regarding maintaining fleet management systems, GAO said many of the agencies are missing data on fleet costs, specifically data the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) recommends agencies collect, and that some systems aren’t integrated with others. This makes it difficult for fleet managers to analyze fleet data in order to make decisions, according to the report. GAO noted that some agencies also lack an approach for estimating indirect fleet costs and that GSA doesn’t provide guidance for estimating these costs.

Next, the agencies noted in the GAO report are not fully analyzing lifecycle costs to make fleet replacement decisions. GAO said officials said they had problems with their cost data and fleet management information systems (FMIS) and said efforts to improve cost data collection and how their FMISs work would help in this area.

Lastly, the report said that the agencies noted previously have set targets for optimizing fleet size and composition. For example, DHS planned to reduce its fleet by 15 percent between 2011 and 2015, and the VA plans to increase its fleet size by 8 percent. The GAO said that although the GSA reviewed federal agencies’ optimization targets in 2012, the agency didn’t have supporting documentation that explained how federal agencies arrived at their optimization targets.

To address these issues, GAO recommends GSA develop guidance for agencies on estimating indirect fleet costs and request that federal agencies provide documentation that supports their decisions for optimizing fleet size and composition.

Beyond these recommendations, the GAO report said federal agency officials are facing three broad fleet management challenges. They include meeting energy-related requirements, for example acquiring alternative-fuel vehicles; a lack of certainty on how to allocate funds to fleet management activities; and ensuring that agency fleet managers have enough experience to address these specific challenges. GAO said federal agencies are working to address these challenges through the fleet optimization process, using a working capital fund, and providing online training for agency fleet managers.