The City of Sacramento (Calif.) Department of Utilities can save money by expanding its vehicle utilization criteria and revoking fuel island access from former employees, according to a recent audit by the city auditor.

The Department of Utilities is responsible for the city’s water, wastewater, and storm drainage services. It is one of Fleet Management’s customer departments and has a fleet of about 500 vehicles.

The Fleet Management Division provides a list of underutilized vehicles to departments each year based on annual mileage criteria of 6,000 miles. Auditors found that this was only applied to light-duty, non-specialty vehicles, and there were no criteria for utilization of heavy-duty or specialty vehicles. Auditors conducted a benchmarking survey of several fleets and found that many had utilization standards for heavy equipment. Using a 3,750-mile threshold, Utilities would have 19 potentially underutilized units costing more than $650,000 each year. The audit recommended the Fleet Division establish utilization criteria for all vehicle types.

The audit also recommended that Fleet develop more stringent criteria for vehicle justifications and that Utilities develop a process to determine when vehicle allowances are a more cost-effective option than take-home vehicles. The auditor found that vehicle allowances could save the department $143,000 annually.

The audit also focused on fuel management, and auditors stated they were only able to reconcile 76% of sampled fueling transactions. The rest had errors such as an incorrect fuel amount, incorrect employee identification, or incorrect vehicle number. The audit recommended that Fleet works with its vendor to resolve or minimize systems issues related to fuel transactions.

Fleet Manager Mark Stevens said the fleet has purchased Fuel Focus replacement heads for all fuel sites, and these will be replaced within the next several months.

Additionally, auditors found that former employees “appear to have” obtained 10,860 gallons of fuel totaling more than $30,000 from fueling islands because their fuel access had not been revoked. Auditors recommended that Fleet Management enhance the process of removing access to fueling islands if an employee no longer works with the city.

Stevens said he strongly believes these were legitimate transactions performed by current employees using PINs of those who had left city service.

“It was common practice in some departments to use a supervisor’s PIN for short-term or summer employees, and the PIN was used even after those employees left city service. The short-term employees never requested access to the fueling system, therefore they were never activated,” he explained. “We have changed our procedures to now only utilize RFID readers and current employee badges to obtain fuel, thereby eliminating the potential for any appearance or possibility of theft of fuel.”

Fleet management stated in a memo that corrective actions are actively been taken to address the concerns in the audit. These include collecting benchmarking data to create utilization criteria for several classes of vehicles, requiring an exemption form annually for underutilized units, and creating a citywide fleet engine idling policy.

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