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WV audit finds 1,531 state vehicles underutilized


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State agencies in West Virginia aren’t getting good use out of more than 1,500 state-owned vehicles, according to an audit released Tuesday.

According to an audit released Tuesday, among all state agencies, auditors counted 1,531 underutilized state-owned vehicles, with more than 90 of those driven less than 500 miles per month. State rules suggest the government-owned cars, trucks and SUVs be driven at least 1,100 miles a month.
(Gazette-Mail file photo)

State rules suggest the government-owned cars, trucks and SUVs be driven at least 1,100 miles a month. But 42 percent of vehicles reviewed by the state Legislative Auditor didn’t meet the minimum mileage standard, the report showed.

The audit found that 31 state vehicles hadn’t been driven at all, according to mileage records.

The Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, which include State Police, and state and regional jails, had 515 underutilized state vehicles — the most of any agency. The Department of Commerce was next with 322 vehicles not being put to good use. Most of those vehicles were parked with the Division of Natural Resources.

Among all agencies, auditors counted 1,531 underutilized vehicles.

The auditors also discovered that the Fleet Management Office didn’t collect mileage data for about half of all state-owned vehicles. So the number of underutilized government cars could be significantly higher. Only state agencies that use the fleet office’s fueling and maintenance contract reported mileage.

For instance, West Virginia University has 538 state vehicles, but doesn’t report mileage on a single one. Marshall University has 89 state vehicles. The university reported mileage on just two of those.

State community and technical colleges had the largest share of underutilized vehicles — 36 of 40, or 90 percent, didn’t meet the minimum mileage standard. The Veterans Assistance department wasn’t putting enough miles on 16 of its 20 vehicles.

The monthly mileage standard is used to gauge whether it makes financial sense for a state agency to keep a vehicle in the state fleet.

State agencies sought and received exemptions from the mileage reporting rules for 10 vehicles. The most common reason given: “Employee requires constant use to perform job duties.”

“While at this point we can’t say the vehicles not meeting the utilization rule are not needed, it is clear that agencies are not properly requesting the exemption to the rule,” said Denny Rhodes, post audit director at the Legislative Auditor’s office.

Auditors presented the report to state lawmakers Tuesday. Rhodes said the fleet office has started to collect more mileage data.

In March, Gov. Jim Justice halted purchases of new state vehicles.

Since Justice took office in January, his administration has put more than 300 state vehicles out of service. Most of the vehicles will be sold at auction.

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