Good ideas can come from many sources. 
 - Photo via Pixabay

Good ideas can come from many sources. 

Photo via Pixabay

Government Fleet often shares programs and initiatives that lead to great success, but those ideas often require significant investments in time or money. Here, we turn to the smaller ideas that are simpler and easier to implement.

Make Auctions Accessible

Rather than choosing between an online  and brick-and-mortar auction, the North Dakota Department of Transportation now simulcasts its in-person auctions online. Viewers can submit a bid in person, via computer, or from their phone. 

This method takes advantage of the crowds that attend brick-and-mortar auctions while allowing interested parties to learn more about the vehicles in advance. The agency has simulcast one auction so far with success and has five more planned for the fall.

Sonoma County found success replacing its work truck with an SUV. - Photo courtesy of Sonoma County

Sonoma County found success replacing its work truck with an SUV.

Photo courtesy of Sonoma County

Go Smaller

Sonoma County Animal Control in California was tasked with cutting its fuel consumption. The agency looked to another department for inspiration — the Sheriff’s Office’s SUVs used by K-9 units.

Last year, Animal Control began piloting a Ford Police Interceptor Utility in place of its usual Ford F-250 pickup, a switch projected to save more than $19,000 per vehicle. 

The pilot has been a success so far, bringing more savings than expected thanks to the PIU’s better-than-projected fuel economy.

Revisit Your Contracts

In the City of Irving, Texas, past fleet managers traditionally followed the path of least resistance when it came to purchasing parts or vehicles — which often meant choosing the vendor that required the least amount of paperwork and renewing contracts to avoid the extra paperwork. 

Over the past two years, the city has taken a second look at these contracts — researching alternative vendors, renegotiating contracts to obtain better pricing, and even reaching out to local businesses and encouraging them to submit bids. The city also looked into standardizing to fewer makes and models to reduce the amount of parts needed in stock.

The money saved through these changes was used to hire two new technicians and reclassify employees who have taken on more duties.

Minnesota Department of Transportation wanted to increase visibility for its plows. - Photo courtesy of Minnesota Department of Transportation

Minnesota Department of Transportation wanted to increase visibility for its plows.

Photo courtesy of Minnesota Department of Transportation

Improve Visibility

The Minnesota Department of Transportation wanted to increase safety while plowing snow in the winter by attaching a light to the side of the plow. The wing blade already has a flashing amber light isntalled, but the team was interested in something brighter for increased visibility.

The team came up with an LED light in a nylon tube, which costs $40 in raw materials per plow and offers a brighter appearance than similar products they found available for sale.

The lights were tested on a few plows used in the Twin Cities area last winter with success. Currently, the team is installing them on plows across the state for next winter.

Consider Reverse Auctions

The City of Oceanside, Calif., utilizes a reverse auction for fuel to ensure it pays the lowest price possible. During a reverse auction, vendors bid on a contract. This method can be used on any bulk purchases, including parts, tires, and lubricants.

The city’s provider, K2 Sourcing, collects relevant information, including specs and vendor preferences (such as any buy-local laws). For the city, that means a fuel provider that is able to provide diesel, unleaded, and renewable diesel; is located in Southern California; and is able to prioritize the fleet in the event of an emergency. K2 advertises to potential bidders and hosts the reverse auction. 

On top of that, the city does not pay anything upfront — K2’s fee is paid for by the lowest bidder. The city recently conducted its second reverse auction for fuel, saving $162,000 from its last contract.

The City of Durham was able to implement a new system for employee reviews that allows for more objectivity.
 - Illustration: Getty Images

The City of Durham was able to implement a new system for employee reviews that allows for more objectivity.

Illustration: Getty Images

Prioritize Employee Satisfaction

To ensure employees know exactly how they’re doing, the City of Durham, N.C., implemented a new performance program that tracks how an employee is doing all year. Supervisors meet with employees regularly and are encouraged to provide feedback and coaching. 

SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound) goals are set according to the position, and all employees are evaluated according to the same criteria: SMART goals (50%), city core competencies (30%), and departmental competencies (20%).

All of this data is stored online and considered during end-of-year reviews, so employees should already have a clear idea of their performance, and having this information in one place eliminates the temptation to evaluate an employee based on how a supervisor remembers it.

Automate Recall Management

Every six months, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources sends out a list of its vehicle identification numbers (VINs) to FCA, Ford, and GM and in a few hours, it receives a list of any open recalls. This list is cross-referenced with the agency’s fleet management software, and notifications are sent around the state to affected users. In addition, work orders are automatically generated for all open recalls to ensure they are addressed. 

Previously, the state used a manual system. A single recall could affect as many as 500 vehicles in the state fleet, and when that happened it would take days to identify all the vehicles and notify all users. Now, this process can be completed in a few minutes.

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