Auditor: State-owned vehicle inventory list too lengthy

The Associated Press

JACKSON – Mississippi needs to adopt guidelines that limit how many new vehicles agencies buy each year, a state auditor’s report says.

The report found that Mississippi averages one state-owned vehicle for every three or four employees.

Currently, there are 9,366 state-owned vehicles at a combined value of almost $222 million. Of those vehicles, 1,609 are being used by the Institutions of Higher Learning, which includes the state’s eight public universities.

“Right now, the agencies are not limited to the number they can have on inventory,” said Lisa Shoemaker, director of communications for state Auditor Stacey Pickering. “If an agency decided to purchase 20 new vehicles, it could do that, even if they weren’t really needed.”

In its latest report, the auditor’s office studied the work of the new Bureau of Fleet Management, which was set up in 2006 to implement a statewide system to manage all state-owned vehicles.

“Come to find out, IHL accounts for 17 percent of the state vehicles, but they’re not mandated to participate,” Shoemaker said. “They’re their own state government.”

The auditor’s office is recommending IHL either fall under the bureau’s system or create a similar system of its own.

“All universities would benefit from a coordinated effort of fleet management by increasing the opportunity to reduce purchase and usage costs. Such systems are even more critical in this time of increasing fuel and production costs,” the report said.

IHL officials say they have their own system to track vehicles.

“IHL also serves in an oversight capacity within fleet management across the system,” said Annie Mitchell, director of media relations for IHL. “To that end, IHL maintains copies of each of the institution’s current policies and procedures for fleet management. We also request a summary of the vehicles purchased and/or leased, as well as the associated maintenance and fuel costs per institution.”

Other state agencies also have hundreds of vehicles worth millions of dollars:

n The Department of Transportation with 2,547 at a cost of $78 million.

n The Department of Public Safety with 910 at a cost of $19.2 million.

n The Department of Corrections with 674 at a cost of $11.5 million.

n The Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks with 609 at a cost of $10.9 million.

n The Forestry Commission with 493 vehicles at a cost of $14.3 million.