Savings achieved by eliminating the state of Kansas' central motor pool have been offset by other costs, such as reimbursement of employees using private cars and for rising costs for car rentals, a Kansas state investigation has found.
According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, a 2003 executive order from then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius eliminating the state's motor pool and mandating underused state vehicles be sold at auction included the stipulation that individual state agencies own a set of vehicles for sustained transportation needs. Gaps would be filled by less-expensive rentals and private vehicles. Sebelius claimed elimination of the motor pool, along with a two-year moratorium on purchasing new vehicles, saved the state $24 million.
But a series of state investigations found that reductions from having the smaller fleet and eliminating the central motor pool were offset by high expenditures for reimbursement of employees using private cars and for rising costs for car rentals. For example, at least nine Kansas government employees last year rented vehicles for more than 300 days to conduct business on the state's behalf. In addition, nine state agency staff members rented vehicles for more than 300 days each. Overall mileage driven by employees increased, as did fuel expenditures.
In addition, when assessing the potential of the state saving money by purchasing program cars, auditors indicated the state could save $112,000 a year if agencies were able to negotiate a 20 percent discount from the market price.
Before resigning as governor, Sebelius ordered a 10 percent improvement in average fuel efficiency of state vehicles purchased in 2010, compared to average mileage in 2007. A similar requirement was placed on the state's exclusive rental car contractor, Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
However, auditors said in the latest report that complying with the higher mileage mandate could be difficult if the state simultaneously expanded reliance on flex-fuel vehicles burning ethanol - another of the governor's goals.