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OIG Finds Improvement in DHS Vehicle Fleet Management, but Weaknesses Remain

A report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) says the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its components have “mostly complied” with the Stop Asset and Vehicle Excess (SAVE) Act since it was passed in 2017, but there was a lack of reliable information available.

The SAVE Act requires DHS to make specific improvements in managing its vehicle fleet. The Office of the Chief Readiness Support Officer (OCRSO), as delegated by DHS, collects and reviews components’ vehicle use data, including their analyses of the data and plans for achieving the right types and sizes of vehicles to meet mission needs. 

OIG found that most components developed plans as required. However, only two of the 12 components reviewed fully met requirements to analyze and document vehicle use and cost data to help them achieve the right type and size of fleet vehicles to meet their missions. The watchdog says this occurred because DHS did not require components to include data analyses in their OCRSO-reviewed submissions, as mandated by the SAVE Act. 

Upon reviewing vehicle use and cost data that components should have included in their SAVE Act submissions, OIG determined that four of the five components with the largest fleets did not have reliable information on their vehicles, such as number of trips, miles driven, and hours and days used. OIG believes these data reliability issues occurred because OCRSO did not implement a central, automated system to collect and process components’ vehicle fleet data, and components were in varying stages of implementing telematics, an automated data collection process.

Finally, OIG found that components did not always develop budget requests using SAVE Act submissions, as required, because components did not have fleet budget line items, component fleet offices did not have direct control over fleet funding, or both. DHS and its components may therefore struggle to achieve optimal fleet sizes and compositions or ensure they are in full compliance with the SAVE Act. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has the largest inventory with 24,306 vehicles, followed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with 12,517. The U.S. Coast Guard, Secret Service and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have 3,602, 3,415, and 3,050 vehicles respectively. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency has 1,517, with the remaining components having less than 1000 vehicles each – the lowest number being 30 at the Science and Technology Directorate.

Two earlier OIG reports, in 2014 and 2016, identified fleet mismanagement issues, prompting the creation of the SAVE Act. Now, all but one of the components has a fleet management plan, although as mentioned, not all are in full compliance of the SAVE Act.

OIG’s review revealed that as of July 2019, more than 40 percent of ICE’s fleet still needed replacement. ICE began to phase in leased vehicles in FY 2018. However, due to no budget in FY 2019 and a budget decrease expected in FY 2020, ICE would need seven years of additional time and funding to adequately maintain its fleet. TSA meanwhile is reducing its fleet by 40 percent due to a top-down budget cut.

The report makes four recommendations to OCRSO at DHS:

  1. Update the SAVE Act Execution Plan and associated guidance. Specifically, the office should update the fleet management plan template, annual acquisition plan template, and optimal fleet profile template to include specific requirements under the SAVE Act. 
  2. Establish formal documented feedback to components on their fleet management plans, annual acquisition plans, and optimal fleet profiles, as required by the SAVE Act. 
  3. Implement a centralized, department-wide system accessible by headquarters and component personnel to collect, track, and monitor vehicle miles driven, number of trips, and maintenance costs. 
  4. Work with component vehicle fleet managers to establish a consistent process for funding the acquisition, leasing, and maintenance of vehicles to meet mission needs. 

DHS concurred with all four recommendations and stated that OCRSO will cooperate with component staff to establish a working group to update the SAVE Act Execution Plan and associated guidance by November 30, 2020. OCRSO will also establish a feedback document for components on their fleet management plans, annual acquisition plans, and optimal fleet profiles. This is expected to be completed by December 31, 2020.  In line with the third recommendation, OCRSO will develop a means to capture and record maintenance costs that exceed the fleet charge card limits by September 30, 2021. Finally, OCRSO will work with the DHS Office of the Chief Financial Officer and component staff to create a line item in component budgets for their vehicle fleet requirements. Because the budgets for fiscal years 2021 and 2022 are already established, this line item will be created at the first opportunity, with the formulation of the fiscal year 2023 budget. The estimated completion date is therefore September 30, 2023.

Read the full report at OIG

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Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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