News Story

More State-Owned Vehicles For Fewer State Employees

Explanations include fewer workers tied to an office, cheaper than paying people to use own cars

State government in Michigan owns one vehicle for every 3.4 employees, and the trend is toward more state vehicles, despite there being fewer employees.

Michigan has seen the size of its state employee workforce fall from 52,259 in 2006 to 46,824 in 2017, a drop of 10 percent over that 11-year period. Even so, the number of state-owned vehicles rose from 10,594 to 13,549, a 28 percent increase.

Those numbers come from the state of Michigan’s annual financial report.

Caleb Buhs of the Department of Technology, Management and Budget provided a different number, which comes from a state Fleet Plan.

The Fleet Plan showed that the state owned 12,157 vehicles in 2006 and 13,549 in 2017, an 11.4 percent increase.

The number includes vehicles provided to state law enforcement officials, including State Police troopers.

More than 2,700 individual state employees are assigned a vehicle, according to information provided in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

“There are a number of factors that play into the increase in vehicles, but it mostly comes down to an increase in mobile workers, business decisions by the departments to improve service delivery and a desire to save costs on personal mileage reimbursement,” Buhs said in an email. “The improvements in technology have allowed more employees to conduct their business away from a brick-and-mortar location, as was required in the past. This gives departments an opportunity to improve their business models and offer more services in the field. There is also a point in which the state realizes savings from providing an assigned vehicle to employees when they are seeking reimbursement for personal miles driven.”