DRIVE LESS Act to Reduce Federal Spending on Government Vehicles Has Bipartisan Support

October 9, 2020 by Sean Trambley
U.S. Capitol Police Car. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON. – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., James Lankford, R-Okla., and Angus King, I-Maine, reintroduced their bipartisan legislation to save taxpayer dollars by reducing the federal funding available for the acquisition and leasing of new federal vehicles.

The Domestic Reduction In Vehicle Expenditure and Lowering Emissions from State Sources Act, or the DRIVE LESS Act, aims to significantly improve federal agencies’ fleet management by establishing standards for vehicle utilization and mechanisms to get agencies to comply with them.

The U.S. government maintains one of the largest fleets of automotive vehicles in the world. In 2019, U.S. agencies owned or leased a total of 645,047 vehicles, including 224,227 passenger vehicles and 412,488 trucks. Overall, the maintenance, leasing, depreciation and fuel for all of these cars and trucks comes at a cost to taxpayers of over $4.3 billion, according to Government Fleet

Despite this huge inventory, many of these vehicles are underutilized, suggesting the federal government could substantially reduce its fleet size without harm to agencies’ missions. 

On average, a vehicle in the government’s fleet was driven just under 7,000 miles in 2019, while the average truck was driven fewer than 6,000 miles.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill for government agencies’ unnecessary vehicle expenses,” said Shaheen. “The government’s bloated vehicle budget is a good example of where we can make smart, targeted cuts, and my bill makes sure the government takes better control of its wallet and only makes necessary vehicle purchases. This bipartisan legislation is a common-sense measure to reduce unnecessary government spending so we can focus our attention and federal resources on where they are needed most.”

Specifically, the DRIVE LESS Act would direct the General Services Administration and Office of Management and Budget to establish uniform methods for agencies to determine the appropriate size of an agency’s fleet, decide whether it is more cost-effective to lease or purchase a vehicle, assess vehicle utilization at the agency level, and document the decision whether to keep a vehicle that is being underutilized.

“Ten years ago the Simpson-Bowles Commission report recommended as part of its debt reduction proposals reducing the federal vehicle fleet budget by 20%,” said Senator Lankford. “Only in Washington can something so easy and so necessary take so long to accomplish. Today we moved another step closer by introducing the DRIVE LESS Act in the Senate. The American people should not be required to maintain the cost of the federal government’s excessive vehicle stockpile. I’m hopeful the Senate seriously evaluates and considers this bipartisan, commonsense proposal.”

In addition, the legislation would establish a government-wide minimum utilization rate of 12,000 miles annually for passenger vehicles and 10,000 for light trucks to help ensure each agency’s fleet is being used as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Each agency would be required to make publicly available all relevant information used to determine the appropriate size of its fleet and a clear justification for deviation from these minimum utilization rates. 

The Inspector General of each agency will also be required to conduct an audit every two years of the agency’s fleet management practices and adherence to these standards, which would be submitted to Congress and made publicly available.

“The federal budget is full of competing priorities, which can make for hard decisions,” said King. “This is an easy one. The budget for federal vehicles is irresponsibly high, and by reducing the fleet we can save hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. This is a bipartisan proposal, dating back a decade – so let’s stop talking about it, and actually implement this change.”

Text of the legislation is available here.

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