Archive for Monday, July 13, 2009

Audit examines state travel expenses

July 13, 2009

The cost of state travel is going up.

In 2003, then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius eliminated state government’s Central Motor Pool, implemented a two-year moratorium on all new vehicle purchases, and sold more than 700 vehicles that were determined to be under-used.

With no Central Motor Pool, state employees have had three options when they travel:

• Renting a vehicle through the state’s vendor, Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

• Using personal vehicles, the cost for which is reimbursed by the employee’s agency.

• Driving an agency-owned vehicle.

Lawmakers ordered an audit aimed at trying to determine vehicle and travel costs.

The Legislative Division of Post Audit recently released the report, and here are some of audit’s findings:

• Total vehicle-related costs for 2008 — including new vehicle purchases — increased 11 percent since 2006. That includes a 25 percent increase in vehicle purchases between 2006 and 2008, which was likely due to the moratorium on vehicle purchase in 2004 and 2005, the audit said.

• Four agencies had nine employees who rented vehicles for more than 300 total days, including one midsize sport-utility vehicle. The minimum level of cost of these rentals was $7,525 and the maximum annual cost was $13,850, that audit said.

“At this level of cost, agencies could almost certainly own and operate a state vehicle for much less over the useful life of that vehicle,” the audit said.

• Since 2003, the number of miles driven by state employees has increased 2 percent. Private miles have increased 11 percent, and rental miles 101 percent, while the number of agency-owned vehicle miles has decreased by 4 percent.

• It was difficult to determine how efficiently agencies were handling their vehicle fleets because necessary data was not readily available.

Checks in the mail

The state reports that people should be receiving state tax refunds and Homestead claims that had been held up in June because of budget problems.

Last week, the State Finance Council approved $700 million in certificates of indebtedness, which essentially freed up money to restart the refunds.

A total of 35,000 checks worth $31 million had been delayed, according to the Kansas Department of Revenue. The checks will probably take several weeks to be processed and sent.

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