By Mark Boada, Executive Editor
This year’s survey by the National Conference of State Fleet Administrators (NCSFA) confirmed that most state and public university fleets follow best practices in many areas, but also found room for improvement in their acquisition and safety programs and their use of telematics.
The organization received complete responses from 27 state governments and agencies and 17 public universities, with more than 207,000 vehicles, from class 1 through 8, under management. Many of the fleets comprise law enforcement vehicles in addition to civilian assets. Results from the survey, which was managed by the fleet consulting firm of Mercury Associates, were presented at the NSCFA’s State Fleet Managers’ Workshop in New Orleans at the end of September.
The survey revealed the following profiles of the fleets:
- The fleets range in size from 15 to 25,000 units, and the average size was 4,413.
- 36 percent are fully centralized, 53 are partially centralized, and 11 percent are managed at the department level.
- The average fleet manager serves 82 organizations, ranging in number from one to 697.
- The average fleet has 21 in-house fueling facilities, with the largest at 434.
- 75 percent run in-house maintenance and repair facilities. The average fleet has 11 in-house shops, and the range was from zero to 153.
- About half of the fleets perform upfitting in-house.
On the plus side, the survey found that among surveyed fleets:
- Almost all use a computerized fleet management information system to monitor fleet operations and performance.
- Virtually all have a formal preventive maintenance program in place, and that those who enforce it achieve cost savings of up to $1,000 or more per vehicle.
- Most of the fleets measure the productivity of their in-house maintenance technicians.
- About 60 percent of those with in-house maintenance and repair programs budget for training, and more than half have employee professional programs.
- Two-thirds replace their fleet assets in accordance with established guidelines.
- Around two-thirds have considered leasing and other alternatives to purchasing fleet vehicles.
- Most fleets comply with federal requirements for alternative-fuel vehicles and have minimum purchase programs to acquire them.
- Half of the fleets gave themselves a three or higher on a five-point scale on how effectively their fleets allocate and utilize their vehicles.
Key areas for improvement
Meanwhile, the survey found room for improvement in the following areas:
- Group purchasing programs. About half fail to take advantage of potentially money-saving cooperative vehicle acquisition programs, like the National Joint Powers Alliance and the NASPO ValuePoint Cooperative Purchasing Organization.
- Safety. While most fleets have safety policies in place, fewer than half don’t perform regular driver motor vehicle record checks, and more than three-quarters don’t measure the effectiveness of their driver safety programs.
- Telematics. Fewer than half of the fleets have adopted telematics technology, which has been found to help fleets save fuel, improve fleet utilization and improve safety and driver behavior.
The report also cited a troubling trend affecting the fleet industry in general: a net loss of technician talent due to retirements and fewer young people entering the field while vehicles are becoming increasingly complex and costly to obtain and maintain. In response, the industry hasn’t invested enough in finding new talent, according to the report.
The NCSFA said in its presentation that the purpose of the survey is to “inform and educate NCSFA members and other fleet professionals about industry conditions, practices and trends; identify and establish consensus on standards of measurement that are relevant to government fleets; and continue to build on NCSFA’s position as a respected source of information on government fleet management practices and performance measurement.”