SACRAMENTO - California taxpayers are keeping a watchful eye on state agency expenses, including those involving state-owned vehicles.
Below are the latest examples of agency activities under scrutiny of Californians, according to the California Waste Watchers Web site:
Statewide - Hundreds of people have reported the need to get rid of state vehicles that are underused and reduce the number of vehicles that are allowed to be taken home by employees. A comprehensive fleet reduction effort has been launched, and the projected savings for the first year is $24.1 million.
Department of Transportation - After investigating a citizen's Waste Watchers complaint that Caltrans employees used a state vehicle to travel to a casino, it was determined that the employees in question were not on state time but did stop for lunch at a casino on the highway. While it is acceptable for state employees to stop for lunch, using a state car to visit a casino for any reason other than specific job-related duties is inappropriate. Appropriate actions have been to ensure it doesn't happen again.
Department of General Services (DGS) - Following a Waste Watchers complaint that a state-owned vehicle was being used by an employee for personal use, appropriate corrective action has been taken against the individual, and the state vehicle policy is being further reviewed with each department employee.
In addition, the department purchased 50 Toyota Prius Hybrids in February and stored the vehicles pending conversion to extended-electric use as part of a pilot program. The contract for the conversion to plug-in use encountered delays. Due to the possibility of an accident damaging or wrecking a car before the conversion, DGS kept the vehicles stored. Following a Waste Watchers' correspondence, the State Consumer Services Agency ordered DGS to immediately place the vehicles into daily service, pending conversion.
California Highway Patrol - Following a suggestion that the California Highway Patrol stop the practice of professionally detailing patrol cars, all commanders have been reminded that policies allow for cars to be detailed only when it is deemed essential for safety reasons or in some cases to preserve the resale value. Estimated savings is $3,000 annually.
California Highway Patrol - Reducing the number of Sergeants who are allowed to take home patrol cars for after-hours calls at one office saved $8,400 per year.