GPS devices delivering info on county vehicles

Global Positioning System devices have been installed on 199 Maui County vehicles, giving managers an eye-in-the-sky view of vehicle use and wear and tear.

Meanwhile, it was unknown last week whether all departments are complying with a vehicle-use policy adopted nearly 16 months ago.

That policy went into effect July 1, 2012. It’s aimed at improved management of the 628 vehicles covered by it, as well as curbing abuses, such as employees unnecessarily taking home county-owned vehicles, a longtime practice and perk for some in government service.

The most recent update on departments’ compliance with the vehicle-use policy was completed April 29, according to county spokesman Rod Antone.

Another update is expected in December, he said last week.

As of the end of April, the departments fully in compliance were the Civil Defense Agency, the Department of Environmental Management, the Department of Management, the Office of the Mayor, the Office of Economic Development, the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney, the Department of Public Works and the Department of Transportation, Antone said.

Other departments’ compliance rates ranged from 50 to 90 percent, with the departments of Parks and Recreation and Water Supply only halfway compliant, he said.

“Those numbers were back in April,” Antone said. “The departments have been working very hard to try to come in compliance. I’m sure that by the next evaluation in December, even more progress will be made.”

Of the more than 600 vehicles covered by the policy, the departments of Water Supply and Parks and Recreation rank highest, respectively, with 152 and 138 vehicles assigned to their employees.

It’s taken those departments longer to fully abide by the policy because of the number of vehicles involved, Antone said.

The policy requires department managers and employees to complete paperwork to determine on a case-by-case basis whether an employee is authorized to take home a vehicle.

“It’s a whole new slew of paperwork for them,” Antone said. “Some departments are adjusting better than others.”

Meanwhile, Network Fleet has been awarded a $225,420 contract to install GPS devices in county vehicles, he said.

So far, 199 units were installed in August, he said, and another 300 will go into vehicles in November.

The breakdown of department vehicles with the 199 devices is: 60 for the Department of Parks and Recreation, 60 for the Department of Water Supply, 40 for the Department of Public Works and 39 for the Department of Environmental Management, Antone said.

Information was not immediately available on which departments’ vehicles would have the next 300 devices installed.

One feature of the GPS devices is that they give county managers information on the functioning status of vehicle engines, he said. And, already, several vehicles have been identified that have problems with an engine cylinder not firing properly and wasting fuel.

“That’s an example of how the units are saving money,” Antone said.

With the system in place, the county can expect to extend the useful life of vehicles and reduce the need to purchase new vehicles, he said.

“We expect much, much more data in a year,” Antone said.

The county’s vehicle-use policy and its GPS tracking program both stemmed from a 2010 Cost of Government Commission report.

It cited concerns about the high number of vehicles (then put at 1,268, or about one vehicle for every two county employees), excessive delegation of vehicle usage approval, inconsistencies among departments in vehicle assignments, poor inventory record-keeping and vague or nonexistent policies.

The report said the county could save $32.8 million over two years by improving its vehicle fleet management.

The police and fire departments and the offices of the County Clerk and Council Services are not covered by the county vehicle-use policy. Those departments and offices have their own policies.

* Brian Perry can be reached at