July 21, 2008 — The Department of Property and Procurement's efforts to reduce vacancies, cut down gas consumption of the government fleet and switch to more fuel-efficient cars is commendable and could serve as a model for other departments and agencies, senators said Monday.
Though they waited until about 5 p.m. to testify during the second round of budget hearings, department representatives moved quickly and said they would be able to work within the recommended $6.7 million General Fund budget and $9.9 million overall budget for fiscal year 2009.
Included in the department's overall budget is a little over $2 million from the Business and Commercial Fund and $313,356 from the Indirect Cost Fund.
Gaining momentum from performance-based budgeting initiatives implemented this year, the department aims for a more streamlined and productive path next year, according to Property and Procurement Commissioner Lynn Millin Maduro. This includes moving aggressively on outstanding government leases, making sure government contracts move more quickly through the procurement system and uploading an inventory of assets on the new Enterprise Resource Planning System, the government's new financial and records database.
Personnel services costs and associated fringe benefits — pegged at about $6.1 million in General Fund money, $1.6 million from the Business and Commercial Fund and almost all the money from the Indirect Cost Fund appropriation — eat up most of the department's budget, covering 127 employees and about 35 vacancies. Prior to the implementation of a government-wide hiring freeze, Property and Procurement had started filling about eight of the vacant positions, and needs to fill about two more (for a total of 10 positions) for FY 2009, Maduro said.
According to an analysis provided by the Legislature's Post Audit Division, Property and Procurement's FY 2009 General Fund budget also includes: $130,000 for utility costs, $120,000 for capital outlays, $118,746 for supplies and $240,919 in the "other services and charges" category.
Property and Procurement representatives also said work on the construction of a government complex is under way, with bid evaluation starting this month. A contract will "hopefully" be in place by the end of the year, Maduro said.
With a freeze on the purchase of sport utility vehicles currently in effect, the department has switched to smaller, more fuel efficient cars for tasks such as deliveries or messenger services, she added. As of March, Property and Procurement saw savings on the amount of gas bought for government vehicles, a trend that can be attributed to a decrease in consumption, Maduro explained.
To date, the department has spent about $2.5 million in gas and bought 767,560 gallons of gasoline — a decrease of 13.7 percent over FY 2007, she said. Less consumption can also be attributed to fewer government vehicles traveling the roads since the new sticker system — which shows what cars can be used outside of regular government business hours — went into effect, Maduro said.
Present during Monday's hearing were Sens. Liston Davis, Juan Figueroa-Serville, Louis P. Hill, Terrence "Positive" Nelson, Basil Ottley Jr. and James Weber III.
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