We were traveling on a Southwest flight last week and our ears perked up.
An articulate state attorney sitting behind us started complaining about how her colleagues in other agencies are knowingly abusing their state vehicle privileges, using their work-assigned cars and trucks to run personal errands and trips on the taxpayer dime.
Downright refreshing, though not necessarily true. Or is it?
The attorney, it seems, is not the only one worried about what taxpayers see and think as the newer model state cars and trucks idle at a bank or zip into the supermarket parking lot.
The Department of General Services released an annual update of its fleet vehicle handbook for state workers last month.
To read it, click here. It included this gem of a warning, always worth repeating:
The operation of a state vehicle is a highly visible activity that deserves the attention of each state agency.
The public's awareness of state vehicles and their concern about proper use has been heightened by the current economic situation.
The booklet continues:
State agencies and all state employees are responsible for knowing and following state fleet rules, including, but not limited to the following:
1. State motor vehicles shall be used only in the conduct of state business.
2. Commuting in state vehicles is allowed only in compliance with specific guidelines and all costs must be reimbursed to the state.
3. A Home Storage Permit is required if a state vehicle is frequently kept overnight at or in the vicinity of an employee's home.
4. Carrying in the vehicle any persons other than those directly involved with official state business is prohibited unless permission is obtained in advance for each trip by the employee's supervisor.
5. State agencies and employees are responsible for properly reporting personal use of state provided vehicles, considered compensation by the Internal Revenue Service and Franchise Tax Board.
6. Smoking in state vehicles is prohibited.
Now, we often hear the claim that home storage permits are abused.
The occasional case even surfaces in state auditor reports.
So tell me, state workers, is the abuse of home storage permits uncommon, as we suspect, or is the reality far different?