Auditor: Miss. has too many state-owned vehicles

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - 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:

- The Department of Transportation with 2,547 at a cost of $78


- The Department of Public Safety with 910 at a cost of $19.2


- The Department of Corrections with 674 at a cost of $11.5


- The Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks with 609 at a

cost of $10.9 million;

- The Forestry Commission with 493 vehicles at a cost of $14.3


(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)