There are nearly 700 civilian state employees who drive state owned vehicles home each night. That figure would nearly triple if it included law officers. The total also doesn’t include higher education, which has about 2,500 vehicles.
Law enforcement officers and “essential personnel are allowed under Oklahoma law to take state-owned vehicles home. The definition of “essential personnel “ is left to agency directors, and it can vary greatly.
The head of the Department of Human Services, the state’s largest agency, doesn’t allow take-home cars for any employees. In fact, his state-owned vehicle is shared with about six other DHS employees.
Contrast that with the state Department of Transportation, which according to the audit had nearly 200 take-home vehicles, including 24 sport-utility vehicles. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry had 123. The Department of Public Safety had 36, including one for a chaplain and six for radio technicians.
Some agency officials had sound policies, others didn’t. In the case of the agriculture department, take-home cars are used by employees who work out of field offices or out of their homes. No one who works in the Oklahoma City office has such privileges.
The Corrections Department has 48 take-home cars, including for the chief attorney and six deputy directors. The arrangement saves time and “provides them the opportunity to go directly to appointments and field units.
The audit has prompted some changes among some agencies. More are needed.
When Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan audited the fleet of state-owned vehicles, he found that some agency officials had sound policies and others didn’t.
The lack of an auto fleet policy revealed waste and opportunities to save $20 million in the course of a decade through more stringent rules and by centralizing oversight.