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Govt Has 642,233 Cars Plus Chauffeurs

From an outraged Associated Press:

Govt loves its cars, all 642,233 of ’em

By JENNIFER C. KERR, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Americans love their cars, and so apparently does Uncle Sam. He’s got 642,233 of them.

Operating those vehicles — maintenance, leases and fuel — cost taxpayers a whopping $3.4 billion last year, according to General Services Administration data obtained and analyzed by The Associated Press…

• At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, fuel consumption and inventory are down, yet overall costs have increased significantly. Officials there can’t figure out why.

The Interior Department was told by its own watchdog that it should cut its inventory, but it’s added hundreds of vehicles.

The VA has some cars that are barely driven. One just disappeared.

Add to that the cost of drivers, a perk given to high-level government officials.

Transportation Secretary Mary Peters has two drivers. Their salaries totaled more than $128,000 last year.

The driver for Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt earns about $90,000 a year. That’s more than double the average salary of an office manager or accountant, and about $35,000 more than a registered nurse earns, according to a salary calculator provided by CareerBuilder.com.

The government owns or leases sedans, SUVs, trucks, limousines and ambulances for more than three dozen agencies, the U.S. military and the Postal Service

The Department of Housing and Urban Development admits problems with its fleet of about 450 vehicles.

According to an AP analysis, fleet costs at HUD have soared nearly 70 percent since 2004, to more than $2.1 million last year. But during the same period, the agency trimmed its fleet and overall fuel consumption. While gas prices have increased since 2004, the period AP analyzed came well before today’s record-high prices.

“Where that spike in overall costs came from, I have no idea,” said Bradley Jewitt, director of HUD’s facilities management division. Agency spokesman Jerry Brown added, “We can’t explain it.” …

HUD has cars for employees who conduct fair housing and mortgage fraud investigations and housing inspections across the country. At the Interior Department, cars and trucks are used by workers who help manage some 500 million acres of public lands. The Agriculture Department has tens of thousands of vehicles for conservationists, scientists, farm loan specialists and the Forest Service.

Federal agencies also have dedicated cars and drivers for senior officials.

In addition to the salaries for the two drivers for Transportation Secretary Peters, her car, fuel and maintenance cost $11,500 last year. Most agency chiefs have one driver.

The department says Peters needs two because the “cost of paying one driver overtime to cover both weekday shifts and weekends would be prohibitive.” A spokesman said a driver has to be on duty or available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for Peters.

The Veterans Affairs Department has five sedans assigned to Secretary James Peake, the deputy secretary and the three top officials for the health office, benefits office and national cemetery administration. Total cost for the five cars and drivers: $353,470 a year.

Salaries for government drivers ranged from $46,000 for the driver for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Naomi Earp to about $90,000 for Leavitt’s driver at HHS

All agencies are supposed to report their annual fleet numbers to the General Services Administration. However, the cost and inventory estimates in the GSA’s annual report do not include Congress, which isn’t required to report to GSA on its fleet.

In the bad old days of the Soviet Union the only cars that you would see on the roads were those belonging to government officials and mobsters. (But we repeat ourselves.)

It looks like the US is headed in that direction.

Why do government officials even need cars, let alone drivers? Is there no public transportation?

However, the cost and inventory estimates in the GSA’s annual report do not include Congress, which isn’t required to report to GSA on its fleet.

Gosh, that’s a shock.

Still, isn’t it bizarre how our watchdog media pretends to be outraged by such retched access, while endlessly campaigning for even bigger government?

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, July 31st, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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