The Mississippi Office of the State Auditor wants to know whether it’s more cost-efficient for taxpayers if state employees rent or own the vehicles they drive for work.
Better yet, is it more or less cost efficient for state agencies to lease vehicles through long-term lease agreements?
For most people, finding the most practical way to spend their own cash is basic common sense. That is perhaps not the case for government employees who have the luxury of squandering other people’s hard-earned money.
In a new report, State Auditor Shad White ordered Mississippi state agencies to do better.
Essentially, White asked each agency to produce a more cost-effective fleet management plan.
“Renting is always the least expensive option if the vehicle will be used one or two days each week,” Mississippi auditors wrote.
“However, it [the analysis] also shows the vehicle’s lifetime mileage more heavily influences the decision to rent, purchase, or allow employees to use their personal vehicles as the days of vehicle usage per week increase.”
Mississippi Bureau of Financial Management (BFM) policies already permit long-term vehicle lease agreements.
When the state allows employees to use their personal vehicles, the only cost to the state is the standard per-mile rate established by the federal government. This money goes to the employee.
When the state owns a vehicle, the state, of course, must pay the cost of maintaining the vehicle.
When the state rents a vehicle, the expense depends on how many days the vehicle is reserved.
Mississippi state agencies and other government offices own thousands of vehicles purchased with taxpayer money.
From fire trucks to passenger sedans, these taxpayer-owned vehicles represent millions of dollars of spending—both to purchase and maintain vehicles over time.
Though each state agency operates vehicles with autonomy, the state—through the Department of Finance and Administration’s Bureau of Fleet Management (BFM)—sets the policies for the “purchase, lease, rental, acquisition, use, maintenance and disposal of vehicles by state agencies.”
Nearly 1,000 miles away, in Washington, D.C. President Joe Biden wants most federal vehicles to switch to electric by 2035.
A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) warns that this change could cost taxpayers extra.
The GAO warned about “higher up-front costs and charging infrastructure uncertainties.”
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