Former Cayman Islands Auditor General Dan Duguay once estimated that government was overspending its annual gas bill at the public sector fuel depot by some half a million dollars.

According to government figures made public last week, it appears the government saved about that much money after implementing auditors’ recommendations on how to resolve the issue.

An annual report released by the indicated that government vehicle annual fuel usage at the Department of Vehicle and Equipment Services dropped from about $2.09 million in mid-2014 to about $1.53 million by mid-2016.

“The implementation of the upgraded fuel management software, coupled with the department’s effort to procure more fuel efficient vehicles, is already showing tangible returns,” Department Director Richard Simms said in the annual report for government’s 2015/16 budget year.

Most government vehicles fuel up at the petrol station on North Sound Road operated by Mr. Simms’s department.

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Mr. Simms reported that government vehicles are now using nearly 40,000 fewer gallons of fuel per year than was reported in mid-2014.

It was revealed in 2009 by government’s Internal Audit Unit that a number of anomalies in the use of government fuel cards had been detected. These issues included some individuals apparently filling up the same vehicle twice in one day, and other cards being used to fill up multiple vehicles.

Mr. Duguay, in commenting on the report in early 2010, opined that at least some of the irregular spending likely amounted to fraud, although certain government officials said more of it was due to “slack management’ of fuel depot finances.

In any case, the Planning Ministry’s report detailed much stricter security controls now in place to prevent the potential for fraudulent purchases of government gasoline.

However, there are other areas where the department has shaved costs for vehicle purchases and repairs.

Records show government spent about $320,000 less on repair parts for its vehicles between 2014 and 2015. This was largely due to an influx of newer vehicles in the fleet, according to the Planning Ministry report.

The department reported that nearly 200 new vehicles – about one-fourth of government’s total fleet – were purchased between 2014 and 2016. The government also reduced the number of vehicles older than seven years in its fleet during that time.

The move was recommended by internal auditors, who stated that it appeared the Cayman government was spending more money trying to “keep old vehicles going” than it would spend on the purchase of newer cars that required less maintenance.

Other cost-saving measures were employed: “The fleet is now focused on three primary manufacturers, Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota. Having fewer makes and models in the fleet creates efficiencies by reducing the parts to be sourced and kept …

“This is benefitting the government in a tangible manner through material reductions in the annual cost for vehicle repair and maintenance.”

Government vehicles since 2015 are also all being purchased with a four-year maintenance program, the report noted.

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