Auditor: Island Transit failed to monitor use of vehicles, fuel cards
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey Examiner Staff
December 30, 2013 · 3:30 PM
For a second time in as many years, state auditors are shining a spotlight on Island Transit's apparent lack of oversight over employee use of take-home vehicles and fuel cards.
Island Transit has 14 vehicles and fuel cards assigned to staff members.
Island Transit previously implemented a policy stating that vehicles and fuel cards can only be used for official purposes.
According to an Accountability Audit Report issued Dec. 30 by the Washington State Auditor's Office, however, IT officials "did not adequately monitor take-home vehicles and fuel card use to ensure they are only used for official purposes."
The auditor's report found the following:
• Island Transit didn't adequately monitor vehicle and fuel use. Employees are required to report mileage on a weekly basis, but 11 of the 12 home vehicles tested didn't report mileage every week.
• Of the mileage that was reported, fuel use and purchases were not reconciled to miles logged on vehicles to determine if the assigned vehicle is used only for official business.
• Employees with assigned vehicles didn't document where they were driving the vehicle and for what purpose.
• Six vehicles were not marked as transit assets "for official use" as required by state law.
"Without adequate monitoring of vehicle and fuel use, the Transit cannot ensure that assigned take home vehicles are used only for official purposes," the report said. "As a result, assigned vehicles could be used for activities not related to Transit business."
Auditors issued a similar finding for Island Transit in 2011 and said they still consider the issue to be unresolved, according to the report.
Island Transit Executive Director Martha Rose could not be reached for comment on the latest audit report findings.
Island Transit officials did respond in the accountability report to the auditor's finding.
IT officials responded that they implemented a new fueling system, including data collection, that allows staff to track fuel use on each vehicle.
Vehicles stationed on Whidbey Island will be fueled at Island Transit's campus near Outlying Field.
Specific staff will be allowed to fuel vehicles at the headquarters.
Reports will outline which employee fueled a vehicle and the mileage made since the last refueling, according to IT's response.
That step, IT officials told the auditor's office, will allow them to monitor fuel use.
Transit officials said they will implement a procedure in which people with "take-home vehicles" provide an end-of-shift report describing vehicle use and the number of miles traveled.
That information will be reviewed for "reasonability" and reconciled with fuel use to ensure vehicles are used for official business, IT officials said in their response.
As for the marking of vehicles, Island Transit said it uses some vehicles for investigative purposes. It aids local law enforcement in investigating potential illegal activity or vandalism at Island Transit facilities.
"We understand that the SAO doesn't agree with our assertion that is allowed under RCW 46.08.65," the report states. "Island Transit will be addressing this issue through the state Legislature."
During the 2011 audit, auditors also concluded that Island Transit officials didn't follow bid policies and didn't have policies related to the approval and monitoring of change orders.
Since the finding was issued, Island Transit had one public works project totaling $22 million, the auditors said.
Auditors said they reviewed the project and found officials complied with procurement and bid law by bidding the contract as a whole, and that they also complied with prevailing wage requirements.
The Washington State Auditor's Office examined Island Transit's records from between Jan. 1, 2011 to Dec. 31, 2012.