How San Diego County Uses AssetWorks to Keep its Fleet Operations Competitive, Cost Effective and Well Controlled
At certain times of the year in San Diego County, it is quite possible to sled down snow capped mountains in the morning and surf beachside in the sunny afternoon. Being able to take advantage of this vast and varied landscape is one of many great benefits of living in the area. San Diego County spans 4,260 square miles and the terrain ranges from urban city streets and beaches to foothills, mountains and desert. Approximately three million people reside in the County and they welcome numerous tourists who come to the locale for its near perfect weather and attractions.
San Diego County government provides a significant number of regional services to local taxpayers including law enforcement, health and human services, environmental protection and basic infrastructure items such as road maintenance, parks, libraries and much more. The County employs 17,000 people and was named “One of the Top Ten Best Managed Counties” by Governing Magazine in 2002. One of its highly regarded innovations is the County’s program known as the General Management System (GMS), created to ensure fiscal and operational stability across all departments. This heightened commitment to cost effective and efficient operations has had a distinct impact on the County’s fleet operations.
Many vehicles, one system
Today, San Diego County Fleet Management is a division of the County’s Department of General Services. Fleet Management provides all services in support of the County’s fleet of over 3,800 vehicles. Additionally, Fleet Management provides similar services for other government agencies such as the California Highway Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security. The division has a staff of 58, eight maintenance locations and 21 fuel sites.
However, back in the ‘90s, San Diego County needed to merge two separate fleet operations and migrate from a mainframe application to a client-server, all while being challenged to be competitive when compared to the private sector. These unique challenges led the County to seek bids for a new fleet management information system that could address all issues.
“Following our comprehensive bid proposal process, we decided to convert to AssetWorks FleetFocus™ and use an Application Solution Provider platform,” stated John Clements, Manager, Fleet Operations for San Diego County. “They were rated very high during each stage of our evaluation, and as we became more and more familiar with the product, it became obvious that AssetWorks was the best for the County of San Diego. Plus, the customer references were outstanding.”
Upon the conversion to FleetFocus, the County continued to be operationally and financially compared to the private sector. The need for timely, accurate and comprehensive data was a critical part of the equation and the AssetWorks product proved the ideal solution. San Diego County gained control of its data by using a local server and having real-time data entry and the availability of accurate data. The County established FleetFocus as the “data center” for all vehicle information instead of having various pieces of information in several systems. They also eliminated the cumbersome, inaccurate, and difficult-to-report data so typical of mainframe environments. FleetFocus also allowed San Diego to control vehicle and parts inventories, something that had been missing under the old system.
Fending Off Privatisation
AssetWorks has been integral in helping the County of San Diego’s Fleet Management division fend off privatisation. Eventually, the Fleet Management division was selected to participate in the County of San Diego’s first managed competition program. Managed competition is a process where government issues a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a product and/or service and the internal employee group is allowed to bid on providing the product and/or service. Therefore, an RFP was issued to provide maintenance services for the County’s vehicle fleet.
The Fleet Management employee group submitted the most competitive, cost effective proposal and was awarded a contract to maintain the County’s fleet. The proposal included many improvements including a 25% staff reduction, privatized automotive parts operation, closing two of the 10 maintenance facilities, implementing maintenance performance standards, a guaranteed price contract, and mandatory ASE certifications for fleet technicians. To date, all of these improvements have been successfully implemented.
AssetWorks software delivered comprehensive and accurate fleet data that transformed San Diego’s managed competition program, the implementation of an Internal Service Fund (charge back system), a countywide ERP program and many other improvements affecting all Fleet business units. Here are just a few more examples of the many benefits that the County of San Diego realized after teaming with AssetWorks:
- Product Support: Fleet Management received tremendous product support from AssetWorks. The County of San Diego was one of the first governments to outsource its entire IT department. Concurrently, Fleet Management became one of the many AssetWorks Application Solution Provider (ASP) customers. “This has been one of the best decisions made by Fleet Management,” stated Clements. “AssetWorks continually stays abreast of technology changes and ensures that their customers do also.”
- Improved Performance Measurement: FleetFocus captures and monitors all performance measures for the managed competition contract, privatised automotive parts contract and individual staff productivity, ensuring enhanced performance.
- Better Scope of Data: FleetFocus tracks all related information for billing customer departments for all fleet services – maintenance (labour, parts & sublet work), fuel, asset management (acquisition/disposal) and pool vehicles, therefore providing accurate and up-to-the-minute data.
- Consistent Integration and Implementation: The County’s ERP process resulted in the implementation of completely new major software packages including Oracle financials, Peoplesoft and Kronos time collection. Throughout these major changes, FleetFocus continues to be accepted as the County’s “system of record” for ALL fleet vehicle transactions.
- Preventive Maintenance Functionality: A requirement in the managed competition RFP was to classify and track all vehicle maintenance as either Target or Non-Target work for accountability and billing purposes. Target is all predictable maintenance (e.g. preventive maintenance, normal wear and tear, etc.) and Non-Target is unpredictable work (e.g. accidents, driver abuse, etc.). This requirement was accomplished with FleetFocus.
Today, the County of San Diego has gone through managed competition, implemented a customer charge-back system and continues to be competitive with the private sector. They are a perfect example of how accurate, timely and easy to access data is critical to the survival of government fleet organisations. They have documented several million dollars in cost avoidance and reductions in staff.
San Diego also anticipates even more savings as they implement FuelFocus, the wireless, automated fuel and fluid management system provided by AssetWorks. The County is currently replacing its outdated fuel system with FuelFocus, a fully integrated component of FleetFocus. FuelFocus employs real-time, automated radio frequency communications for vehicle and odometer information, thereby eliminating all manual entry and delay of data. This feature guarantees that only County authorized vehicles will be fueled, and with one system on one database, FuelFocus can immediately validate vehicle information with data updating the fleet management application. The enhanced accuracy and timeliness of mileage data improves preventive maintenance. A standard interface between FuelFocus and the County’s Veeder Root™ tank-monitoring system allows for real-time monitoring of fuel and lubricants held in inventory; this automated tank inventory process streamlines product orders and ensures that adequate quantities are on hand at all times. Another benefit of FuelFocus is the reporting component that satisfies the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Department of Natural Resource requirements.
“FuelFocus allows me to use one database instead of two and leverage a variety of activation devices such as case wireless, keys and P-Card transactions. The availability of these various activation devices offers greater flexibility to our external fuel customers,” said Clements. “FuelFocus also uses LAN data transfer eliminating phone modems and is completely compatible with our tank monitoring system. Using AssetWorks FuelFocus and FleetFocus together offers complete reporting which we allow customers direct access to, therefore they can run their own fuel usage information. The advantages, which also include file backup and tech support, are truly endless.”