Controls Over Vehicle Use and Transportation-Related Expenses

Issued Date
October 07, 2021
Transportation, Department of


To determine whether the Department of Transportation (Department) has established adequate controls to effectively monitor and ensure accountability over its vehicle use and maintenance expenses. The audit covered the Department’s vehicle use and maintenance expenses for the period from January 2017 to December 2019 and subsequent documentation and information obtained through April 2021.

About the Program

The Department’s mission is to ensure that its customers – those who live, work, and travel in New York State – have a safe, efficient, balanced, and environmentally sound transportation system. The Department is composed of 11 regional offices across the State, of which 10 operate repair shops responsible for the maintenance of Department vehicles. These 11 regions typically serve their local surrounding counties and are responsible for overall management of vehicles in their region, including repairs and procurement of parts for their vehicles. The Department also uses a centralized procurement contract (Contract), negotiated and entered into on behalf of the State by the Office of General Services, for fleet management and repair services, administered by the Contractor. Along with the Department’s 10 regional repair shops, the Contractor provides a network of authorized private repair shops across the State for routine maintenance and repairs and roadside assistance and towing. The regional repair shops either perform maintenance and service in-house or use the authorized private repair shops for parts and/or service, depending on the vehicle type and service needed. As of March 2020, the Department’s fleet included both passenger and construction vehicles totaling 4,283 State-owned and 527 leased vehicles. Between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2019, the Department’s vehicle repair and maintenance expenses totaled approximately $153 million.

Key Findings

  • The Department has not established adequate controls to effectively monitor and ensure accountability over maintenance expenses. The Department performs limited to no central monitoring of procurements made through the Contractor and has not determined if the Contractor is complying with Contract terms, despite central office and regional office managers’ concerns regarding repairs made at Contractor-authorized private repair shops. Instead, officials rely on the Contractor to monitor service costs and are likely not receiving best pricing for services. The Department does little to hold the Contractor accountable for its responsibility to ensure costs are competitive and reasonable and to avoid duplicate or unnecessary repairs. Further, neither the regional repair shop data nor the Contractor data include sufficient detail the Department would need to adequately monitor vehicle repairs and maintenance costs.
  • The Department could improve controls over recalls, warranties, and oversight of fuel and mileage usage. For example, we identified 137 vehicles with 198 open recalls in August 2020. While many of the recalls were repaired after we informed the Department, 15 unrepaired recalls for 12 vehicles remain open as of July 2021. In addition, the Department has not issued written guidance or established agency-wide policies regarding warranties. As a result, warranties are handled differently by the regions, and regional fleet shops do not always attempt to maximize warranty agreements to reduce State costs.

Key Recommendations

  • Implement procedures to monitor repair and maintenance costs agency-wide and hold the Contractor accountable for its responsibilities under the Contract.
  • Develop a process to track vehicle recalls and provide written guidance to regional offices on their responsibility to ensure recalls are repaired timely.
  • Develop and communicate procedures to the regional offices that maximize the utilization of warranties.

Nadine Morrell

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director
: Nadine Morrell
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236