Federally Leased Vehicles:

Agencies Should Strengthen Assessment Processes to Reduce Underutilized Vehicles

GAO-16-136: Published: Jan 14, 2016. Publicly Released: Jan 14, 2016.

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What GAO Found

The General Services Administration (GSA) provides guidance to agencies to assist them in reducing underutilized leased vehicles. This guidance can be written (such as bulletins) or advice from GSA's fleet service representatives (FSR) to agency fleet managers. FSRs assist agencies with leasing issues, and GSA expects its FSRs to communicate with fleet managers about vehicle utilization at least annually. However, 18 of 51 fleet managers GAO surveyed reported that they had never spoken to their FSR about vehicle utilization. GSA has no mechanism to ensure these discussions occur and therefore may miss opportunities to help agencies identify underutilized vehicles.

While the selected agencies—the Air Force, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Park Service (NPS) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA)—took steps to manage vehicle utilization, their processes did not always facilitate the identification and removal of underutilized vehicles. Certain selected agencies (1) could not determine if all vehicles were utilized, (2) could not locate justifications for vehicles that did not meet utilization criteria, or (3) kept vehicles that did not undergo or pass a justification review. These agencies paid GSA about $8.7 million in fiscal year 2014 for leased vehicles that were retained but did not meet utilization criteria and did not have readily available justifications (see table).

Selected Leased Vehicles That Did Not Meet Utilization Criteria and Did Not Have Readily Available Justifications That Were Retained across Five Agencies

Agency

Percentage of the agency's selected vehiclesa

Cost paid to GSA in FY2014

Air Force

8%

$1.5 M

Bureau of Indian Affairs

22%

$1.2 M

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

4%

$0.1M

National Park Service

47%

$2.9M

Veterans Health Administration

14%

$3.0M

Total for Selected Vehicles

15%

$8.7 M

Source: GAO analysis of GSA and agency-provided data. | GAO-16-136

aThe selected vehicles include all GSA-leased sedans, station wagons, and light trucks, except those that were (1) leased by multiple agencies during fiscal year 2014; (2) tactical, emergency responder, or law enforcement vehicles; or (3) outside the continental United States, among other exclusions. Results for selected vehicles cannot be generalized to vehicles outside of the selected population.

Of the selected agencies, NASA and VHA did not apply their utilization criteria to nearly 400 vehicles, representing about $1.2 million paid to GSA in fiscal year 2014. However, these agencies have taken steps to rectify the issue. The Air Force, BIA, NPS, and VHA could not readily locate justifications for over 1,500 leased vehicles that did not meet utilization criteria, representing about $5.8 million. BIA and NPS are planning action to ensure justifications are readily available in the future. As of May 2015, NPS and VHA had retained more than 500 vehicles—costing $1.7 million in fiscal year 2014—that were not subjected to or did not pass agency justification processes. While costs paid to GSA may not equal cost savings associated with eliminating vehicles, without justifications and corrective actions, agencies could be spending millions of dollars on vehicles that may not be needed.

Why GAO Did This Study

Federal agencies spent about $1 billion in fiscal year 2014 to lease about 186,000 vehicles from GSA. Assessing the utilization of leased vehicles is important to agency efforts to manage their fleet costs.

GAO was asked to examine federal processes for assessing the utilization of leased vehicles. This report addresses, among other objectives, (1) GSA's role in identifying and reducing underutilized leased vehicles and (2) the extent to which the processes used by selected federal agencies facilitate the identification and removal of underutilized leased vehicles, and any cost savings that could be achieved by reducing underutilized vehicles. GAO selected five agencies using factors such as fleet size, and analyzed over 15,500 fiscal-year 2014 vehicle records. At the five agencies, GAO surveyed fleet managers with at least 20 leased vehicles; reviewed fleet policies and guidance; and interviewed federal officials. These findings are not generalizable to all agencies or fleet managers.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends, among other things, that GSA develop a mechanism to help ensure that FSRs speak with fleet managers about vehicle utilization, that the Air Force and VHA modify their processes for vehicle justifications, and that NPS and VHA take corrective action for vehicles that do not have readily accessible written justification or did not pass a justification review. Each agency concurred with the recommendations and discussed actions planned or underway to address them.

For more information, contact Lori Rectanus at (202) 512-2834 or rectanusl@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To help improve the accuracy of Drive-thru data to allow agencies to better manage their leased-vehicle fleet data, the Administrator of GSA should evaluate the 9,999-mile/month electronic safeguard for Drive-thru odometer readings to determine if a lower threshold could improve the accuracy of customer data and adjust this safeguard accordingly.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To provide better assurance that Fleet Service Representatives (FSR) are having conversations with leasing customers about utilization in accordance with GSA expectations, the Administrator of GSA should develop a mechanism to help ensure that these conversations occur.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To help strengthen the leased-vehicle justification processes across federal agencies, the Administrator of GSA should examine the Federal Property Management Regulations to determine if these regulations should be amended to require that vehicle justifications are clearly documented and readily available, and adjust them accordingly.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  4. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To improve the justification process, the Secretary of the Department of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to modify the current process to ensure that each leased vehicle in the agency's fleet meets the agency's utilization criteria or has readily available justification documentation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To improve their justification process, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to modify the current process to ensure that each leased vehicle in the agency's fleet meets the agency's utilization criteria or has readily available justification documentation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

  6. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To facilitate the elimination of unnecessary vehicles, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior should direct the NPS Director to take corrective action to address each leased vehicle that has not met the agency's utilization criteria or passed the justification process. This corrective action could include (1) reassigning vehicles within the agency to ensure they are utilized or (2) returning vehicles to GSA.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  7. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To facilitate the elimination of unnecessary vehicles, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to take corrective action to address each leased vehicle that has not met the agency's utilization criteria or passed the justification process. This corrective action could include (1) reassigning vehicles within the agency to ensure they are utilized or (2) returning vehicles to GSA.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

 

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