Federal Protective Service Has More Cars Than Officers

DHS mismanagement of fleet cost $2.5 million

SUVs are processed through an assembly line at the General Motors plant in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday July 14, 2015 / AP

The security force that protects federal buildings has more SUVs than officers, according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) watchdog, which found $2.5 million wasted each year due to mismanagement of its vehicle fleet.

The Federal Protective Service (FPS) had 101 more law enforcement vehicles than officers last year, and spent taxpayer funding to upgrade its SUVs with bike racks, the new audit released by the Office of Inspector General found.

"FPS is not managing its fleet effectively," the OIG said. "FPS did not properly justify that its current fleet is necessary to carry out its operational mission."

"Specifically, FPS did not justify the need for: more vehicles than officers; administrative vehicles; larger sport utility vehicles; home-to-work miles in one region; and discretionary equipment added to vehicles," they said.

The FPS has a fleet of 1,169 vehicles, the vast majority of which are SUVs. The fleet cost $10.7 million to lease last year.

"In [fiscal year] FY 2014, FPS had 101 more law enforcement vehicles than full-time equivalent law enforcement positions," the audit found.

The OIG noted that the agency does have a need for spare vehicles when an officer’s vehicle breaks down, but questioned the large number of excessive vehicles in the fleet. The FPS could save $1,071,500 each year if it got rid of its spare vehicles.

The FPS also did not justify why 93 percent of its fleet are SUVs. Federal law enforcement officers are supposed to use class III midsize sedans, but can drive larger vehicles as an exemption.

Managers told the OIG that the SUVs are necessary to store police equipment. However, auditors found that most officers did not store equipment in their vehicles that is necessary for daily operations.

Law enforcement SUVs cost the agency $1,200 more than sedans each year. "If FPS had replaced all of its law enforcement SUVs with sedans it could have potentially saved more than $1.1 million," the OIG said.

The audit also found that the agency spent money on unnecessary equipment upgrades, which included bike racks.

Standard vehicles come with a security package of lights, sirens, and prisoner cages, costing approximately $12,000 per vehicle.

"In addition to the standard equipment, FPS added discretionary items such as a bike rack hitch, rechargeable flashlight, and premium wireless security system, without documenting how the additional items enhance FPS’ ability to meet its mission requirements," the OIG said.

The upgrades increased costs up to $20,000 per vehicle. In all, the OIG found over $2.5 million in potential savings with the fleet program.