An audit shows that two Utah state agencies have larger fleets of cars than needed and could save more than $1 million in the next three years by cutting back.
The report by the Legislative Auditor General's Office notes that the Department of Transportation and the Department of Administrative Services, which operates the central motor pool, have about 800 cars, 10 percent more than they need.Essentially, the audit recommends fewer cars; stricter rules on who can drive state cars home; purchase of more compact, fuel-efficient autos; and more use before cars are traded in for new models.
Those are reasonable suggestions. Utah can't afford to neglect any opportunity for increased efficiency. Even small savings add up.
Officials of the agencies do have some arguments in favor of current practices:
First, they note that a smaller fleet would mean the vehicles would be driven more often and would not last as long. Second, replacing cars at 50,000 miles or three years saves maintenance and operating costs and provides a bigger resale value of the used autos. Third, larger 6-cylinder autos already are being replaced by smaller cars and make up a smaller percentage of the motor pool than three years ago. Fourth, many employees drive state cars because they may have to respond to emergencies on rare occasions.
But those claims can't stand up against the comparison the audit makes between Utah and seven other Western states.
In all of those states, official cars are kept longer and driven for more miles than in Utah. Several other states also allow less use of official autos for workers to commute to and from home. Utah ought to be able to do the same and save money in the process.