The Utah Department of Transportation needs to reduce the size of its heavy equipment and vehicle fleets and implement a rate system that motivates managers to get rid of unneeded vehicles, a state audit said.

"Too large a fleet inventory results in inefficient use" of taxpayer dollars, said legislative Auditor General Wayne L. Welsh. And the savings from reducing the fleet could be better used on Utah's highways.His office found UDOT's amount of heavy equipment is the same since its last audit in 1977. But the aging inventory is still too large, the audit said. Welsh recommended UDOT closely analyze demand for the equipment to find out what should stay and what can go.

UDOT's fleet of cars and pickup trucks has increased in the past 13 years, while staff has declined, auditors found. Welsh recommends UDOT appoint an advisory committee that will review and approve requests for replacing and adding vehicles.

Further, Welsh said UDOT should implement a "dual rate charging system," where users pay costs of equipment, used or not. Such a system would motivate managers to eliminate unneeded inventory to save money, he said.

"A smaller fleet would be more efficient, and the resulting savings could more effectively be used on road maintenance."

UDOT executive director Eugene H. Findlay agreed in his written response to the audit. He said the department has started implementing Welsh's recommendations, as well as put a hold on new purchases.

"It is my feeling, however, that the average age of our fleet is too high and we will find it prudent to eliminate a larger number of older pieces than the number of new acquisitions, thus reducing our fleet size," Findlay said.