A recent focus on cost-savings in vehicle fleets managed by the state of Missouri should be a lesson for government at every level.
Millions of tax dollars will be saved or repurposed annually thanks to this effort that required little more than direction from the top, a focus on efficiencies and a realistic assessment of what expenses truly could be justified.
The Office of Administration announced earlier this month more than $520,000 in potential savings through a reduction of 30 vehicles from 170 in a consolidated pool for Jefferson City-based workers.
The University of Missouri System then said it would update policies and implement cost-cutting measures for its vehicle fleet which could generate savings of $1.5 million to $2 million.
A few days later, officials said they had achieved another $2.2 million in savings by reducing the vehicle fleet for the Department of Natural Resources for fiscal year 2018. Officials said the cut amounted to 86 government vehicles, or about 14 percent of the department’s fleet.
Importantly, officials contend all of the proposed savings can be achieved without sacrificing service levels in the affected employee groups. In some cases, the cuts were as simple as determining how many vehicles were needed on any given day.
What prompted this success? A year ago, Gov. Eric Greitens appointed Drew Erdmann to become the state’s first chief operating officer to focus on eliminating unneeded regulations and seeking cost efficiencies. Erdmann then convened a task force on management of the vehicle fleets to look at costs, safety and other possible improvements.
The task force included both state officials and industry experts from entities including Ameren, AT&T, Enterprise Holdings, Ford Motor Co., Hogan Transportation, Kansas City Power & Light, McKinsey & Company and GPS Insight. All the experts volunteered their time.
Many of those involved praised the joint effort and the willingness of participants to adopt best practices from private industry where appropriate.
We are encouraged by what this means for the state and taxpayers, but also recognize much more work remains to be done. The state spends “approximately $98 million each year to transport state employees for official business,” the task force reported, and is expected to continue to seek ways to drive down these costs.
Meanwhile, government at every other level has similar costs worth similar close examination.