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.
An audit released by the Office of Inspector General said: "FPS is not managing its fleet effectively. 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," the report 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, reported Fox News.
"In [fiscal year] FY 2014, FPS had 101 more law enforcement vehicles than full-time equivalent law enforcement positions," the audit found.
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, and the FPS could save $1,071,500 each year if it got rid of its spare vehicles.
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.
Marsha Catron, a DHS spokeswoman, emphasized the urgent need for the protective service to have and maintain a vehicle fleet, reported the Washington Post. “The Federal Protective Service, with nearly 1,000 law enforcement officers protecting federal facilities in 236 different geographical locations, requires a vehicle fleet to respond to emergencies at any time, day or night,” she said in a statement. “As law enforcement officers committed to ensuring public safety, they also respond to and assist state and local agencies in incident response.”
Catron added that fleet managers at the service “are working together to develop new procedures and bolster oversight of the fleet program to ensure it is operating efficiently and cost-effectively," the Post said.