October 08, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Office of U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) announced today that Senators King, Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and James Lankford (R-Okla.) reintroduced their bipartisan legislation to save hundreds of millions of 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 enforcement guidelines to get agencies to comply with them.
“The federal budget is full of competing priorities, which can make for hard decisions,” said Senator 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.”
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. 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.
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.
The legislation would also:
· Establish a government-wide minimum utilization rates 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;
· Require each agency 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; and
· Require the Inspector General of each agency 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.
Senator King – named a “Fiscal Hero” by The Campaign to Fix the Debt in 2016 – is a champion of working to reduce wasteful federal spending, and continually works in the Senate to streamline systems to save money for the taxpayers. He is a cosponsor of the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act, a bipartisan bill that would help save taxpayer funds by directing federal agencies to make appropriate use of the death data in order to curb improper payments to deceased individuals. This May, he followed up on this push by joining a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers in raising concerns that deceased individuals are receiving economic impact payments as part of the CARES Act.
Senator King was a leading voice opposing the 2017 tax bill, which has drastically increased the national debt. As the legislation was considered, he introduced an amendment instructing members of the bicameral conference committee on tax reform to return a final conference report that does not increase the federal budget deficit; the amendment was defeated by a vote of 48-50. In a floor speech arguing for this amendment, King noted: “What we’re doing is simply borrowing money from our children to give ourselves tax cuts”.