The State of Tennessee Department of General Services is defending its fleet management operation after NewsChannel 5, a news agency, ran a story accusing the state of consistently spending $10 million over budget every year since it began outsourcing fleet.
NewsChannel 5 claimed that the governor's office maintained an "adjusted" budget that greatly differed from the one proposed to the Tennessee General Assembly. While a proposed budget of $32.5 million was presented and approved by lawmakers in 2012, the administration kept an adjusted budget of $67 million.
"We are disappointed that despite our explanation of how state operating budgets work, WTVF still misunderstood the nature of mid-year budget adjustments to arrive at the incorrect conclusion that our division is overspending its budget," said Bob Williams, assistant commissioner of Vehicles and Asset Management, in a statement. "In fact, Motor Vehicle Management has performed favorable to its operating budget in each of the last six years."
He continued: "Outsourcing has in fact enabled us to cut costs, as can be shown by our $3.4 million reduction from putting employees into leased cars instead of reimbursing them for using their personal cars, and by reducing the annual cost of operating the states’ downtown pool fleet by over 70% through downsizing and going to a daily rental model with Enterprise."
The state has outsourced its vehicle maintenance since 2011, when current Governor Bill Haslam took office. In addition, the state decided to start leasing vehicles instead of purchasing. At the time, the state anticipated hundreds of thousands in savings from eliminating seven maintenance positions and cutting out the facility cost.
Williams added that the fleet's increasing annual budget reflects the fact that the fleet has grown by 1,051 vehicles in the past six years and annual mileage has increased a million miles per year on average.
The Tennessee fleet consists of 6,000 on-road vehicles and more than 2,000 off-road units.