City of Kalamazoo: Comprehensive Fleet Audit
"Instead of raising taxes as some would insist, we need to reduce waste and inefficiency in government."- Tim Murphy United States Congress. Although meant to promote Republican viewpoints, this quote offers powerful insight to the ·widespread inefficiencies experienced across all levels of government. These inefficiencies are often thought to be an unavoidable evil of doing business within the public sector. However, with tax revenues plummeting due to a faltering economy, it seems as though all levels of government are reconsidering this old approach to doing business. Governments are aiming to save money by consolidating, eliminating, and increasing the efficiency of nearly every type of public service. My job title this past summer fell under these efforts as I was brought in as a temporary inten1 to exarr1ine the fleet operations of the City of Kalamazoo. The fact that I was an outsider allowed me to be impartial to any cause, yet it also made gaining the trust and respect of others significantly more difficult. With over 750 different pieces of machinery ranging from plow trucks and backhoes down to leaf blowers and chainsaws, there was certainly no shortage of equipment to examine. Additionally, each of the 10 or more departments and sub-departments performed drastically different functions with job descriptions unique solely to that sector. I worked in conjunction with the City of Kalamazoo's Director of Fleet Operations Craig Norrod, as well as under the City of Kalatnazoo's Director of Public Services Bruce Merchant. Throughout my experience I gained valuable insight into navigating the work place politics of a public sector entity as well as dealing with a wide variety of different people with various agendas of their own. Although seemingly insignificant in regards to increasing the efficiency of a fleet, the ability of infiltrate the true inner workings of the entire operation gave me a succinct viewpoint as an auditor. Combining a common sense approach with a receptive attitude allowed me to ask difficult questions which others could not due to perceived political favor. Asking these questions to different bosses, foremen, and employees allowed for me to draw several conclusions regarding the level of inefficiency within the public services department. Through a combination of cutting equipment, conserving fuel and energy, and establishing various oversight measures I was able to propose approximate yearly savings of $265,000 per year for 7-10 years. As you will see later in this discussion, this project blossomed into much more than a simple analysis of fleet efficiency. Examining management issues, morale concerns, union stipulations, and core competencies all factored into creating an effective and unbiased audit of fleet operations within the public services department.