Amid federal budget cuts, pay freezes and furloughs, the Department of Homeland Security spent tens of millions of dollars on agency vehicles that were hardly ever used.
A new report by the DHS inspector general found that in 2012 the department spent between $35 million and $49 million on underused vehicles. Although DHS has the second largest motor vehicle fleet in the federal government costing about $534 million every year, auditors say the department has no system in place to ensure they’re used effectively.
The IG report said that 59 percent of the department’s vehicles were driven less than 12,000 miles a year. Those vehicles are still sitting in DHS’s inventory, despite federal protocol, which would require them to be disposed of or reassigned
The problem is each agency within the department manages its own fleet, and the department’s central fleet manager doesn’t have authority to manage each agency’s separate fleets. “For these reasons, DHS cannot ensure its vehicle fleet composition is cost efficient, complies with departmental requirements, and has the correct number of motor vehicles to accomplish its mission,” the IG said.
Auditors also flagged DHS for failing to meet new standards put in place by the Obama administration requiring all newly purchased vehicles to be either electric, hybrid or alternatively fueled. The IG said just four percent of the department’s new vehicles fit that category in 2012.
The IG recommended that the DHS create a streamlined system to report every agency’s fleet within the department in order to create more oversight as well as increase the fleet manager’s authority over all fleets. The agency says it will implement those recommendations next year, according to Government Executive.
This is just the latest report of lax oversight at DHS that has led to millions and sometimes billions of wasted tax dollars.
Earlier this year, The Washington Post reported that the department’s massive new headquarters in Washington, D.C., have spiraled over budget by $1.5 billion and are still far from being completed, due to severe management and oversight issues.
That’s not all. Federal auditors have also flagged the department multiple times for routine abuse of federal overtime money. A federal investigation last year found that DHS workers had claimed more than $8.7 million a year in unearned overtime pay, while their managers looked the other way.
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