By Angelos Anastasiou
A REPORT saying the government is unable to effectively monitor and coordinate its fleet of vehicles – numbering over 5,700 – leading to the waste of hundreds of thousands of euros, has been issued by the Internal Audit Service (IAS).
The 78-page document, which includes several suggestions by IAS commissioner Andreas Lamprianou aimed at significant cost savings, has been forwarded to the Finance minister.
The vehicles in question are mostly allocated to the ministry of Justice – 1,718 cars and 291 motorcycles, or roughly 35 per cent of all government vehicles – and the Defence and Communications ministries, with 993 and 937 vehicles, respectively. Based on 2012 year-end statistics issued by the Accountant General’s office, the annual cost to the government for fuel and vehicle maintenance alone was around €17m.
Lamprianou classed the issues he identified under four broad categories, namely the lack of a computerised administration and monitoring system for the government fleet, the incorrect or unsubstantiated evaluation of vehicle needs and subsequent purchases, the inability to calculate the operation cost of the four government vehicle repair shops, and the assumption by the state of costs incurred in road accidents where the blame lies with the driver of the government car.
The commissioner suggested a number of measures aimed at cost savings and proposed the preparation of an individual feasibility study for each to assess the cost-benefit aspects.
Car leasing, as opposed to the current practice of buying cars, was a major point in Lamprianou’s list of suggestions. He argued that leasing would allow greater flexibility in renewing the fleet, reduce initial investment and subsequent maintenance needs, and enhance the efficiency of repair workshops as older vehicles would be replaced.
Other proposals revolved around the preparation of cost-benefit analyses to determine whether various services, currently operated by the government, could be acquired from the private sector at a lower cost.
Another radical proposal was to install a GPS tracker on all vehicles – already installed by some government departments, like the postal services. They would enable the accurate measuring of fuel consumption, better coordination of vehicle use, spotting violations, recording accidents, and monitoring routes to enhance personnel safety.
The IAS report estimated that the cost of installing GPS trackers to all vehicles would range from €650.000 to €850.000, but annual cost savings would roughly equal €850.000, fully offsetting the cost from the first year of implementation.