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State Audit Takes Aim at Controls on Police Cars, Gasoline Tracking System

February 19, 2002
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State Audit Takes Aim at Controls on Police Cars, Gasoline Tracking System

Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Controls on state police vehicles and the gas they consume are insufficient, possibly leading to "theft or misuse" by troopers or other state workers, according to a state audit.

A computer-generated system to track fuel use and inventory of the fleet shows that 200,763 gallons of gas were used by the state Department of Public Safety in February 2001.

About 3,375 gallons, or 1.5 percent of the total, were used by 56 public safety vehicles that were not in service, the report says.

The vehicle identification fuel cards for 56 vehicles were not properly voided and were used to fuel other vehicles, according to the report.

Sgt. J. Paul Vance, a state police spokesman, said public safety employees did not steal gas. "There was in fact no theft," he said.

Instead, he blamed "a lot of problems" on the use of ID cards.

The use of two ID cards - one for the driver and the other for the vehicle - may not change when a new vehicle is issued, he said.

Troopers also borrow the plastic cards when theirs' break or crack, Vance said.

The auditors of public accounts, an oversight agency of the General Assembly, found other problems in the investigation from January to August 2001.

It cited distorted mileage information for some vehicles, an upper management that's not trained to supervise a fleet of nearly 2,000 vehicles and a selection process for maintenance garages based on convenience rather than cost-effectiveness.

In addition, the fuel- and vehicle-tracking system often contained inaccurate or misleading information.

For example, 108 vehicles had negative mileage amounts in the February 2001 report.

The audit rapped the Department of Public Safety for spending more than $1 million in 2000 for preventive maintenance and repair for the fleet at subcontracted service garages.

The report said there is "no assurance that the 266 providers offer the most competitive pricing" because they are not part of the original network selected' for the state contract.

The vendor list has grown from 15 to about 300 and should be pared down, auditors said.

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