The Montgomery County government is not using its vehicle fleet enough, according to a report from the county's inspector general.

About one-third of the vehicles in its fleet -- or 215 vehicles -- were driven fewer than 20 miles per day based on a five-day workweek, the report says. Inspector General Edward Blansitt estimates that the fleet could be reduced by 88 vehicles, saving the county about $1.8 million in replacement costs.

"The overall outcome suggests [vehicle] procedures are not effective in optimizing the overall size of the fleet," Blansitt wrote in the report.

How the inspector general works
The Inspector General's Office received 92 complaints in fiscal 2012, according to Inspector General Edward Blansitt. Those resulted in seven audits, four investigations and 14 referrals to other agencies, Blansitt said.
He said that when the office gets a complaint of misconduct, he can review the matter or request that a certain department or agency do so.
Once the agency addresses the problem, it reports back to the Inspector General's Office, which then determines if the appropriate action was taken.
"So far, we've had some pretty satisfactory results," Blansitt said, noting all agencies that received referrals took sufficient action to rectify their problems.

His analysis of the government's 668 nonemergency vehicles also showed that half need to be replaced by June, which would cost about $5.6 million. The county needs to figure out a better way to decide when to replace vehicles, including looking at age, mileage and maintenance records, because the current factors are too vague.

The report recommends that a car must have at least 5,000 miles on it each fiscal year to show sufficient use and suggests re-examining the criteria by which an employee receives a car and determining if a vehicle could be moved to another department.

David Dise, director of the Department of General Services, said Fleet Management Services already was looking at reducing the fleet because of underuse. He said an estimated 50 vehicles could be sold or used in another department.

In 2011, the county got rid of 33 vehicles.

He said the price tag for new vehicles is high now because the county hasn't purchased replacement vehicles in three years.

"We are always looking for ways to optimize fleet size," Dise said. "But because of the fact we have not purchased a replacement in over three years, my Fleet Management Services division will make recommendations on vehicle replacements."

He said his office is looking at how many vehicles it will request for the fiscal 2014 budget.

Fleet Management Services is finalizing a five-year strategy to create better criteria for replacing vehicles, which will be introduced next year. Creating a plan that details the optimal life cycle for a fleet would reduce replacement costs and potentially reduce fleet size, Dise said.