Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Philadelphia Office of Fleet Management Done Good

From yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer:

Wireless Philadelphia isn't the only program giving the city some buzz these days. The city's Office of Fleet Management ought to be clinking champagne glasses, too.

Two years ago, there was a lot of griping when then-City Managing Director Phil Goldsmith started swiping cars from commissioners and lower-level bureaucrats as a way to save money. In all, 329 "underutilized" city vehicles were sold, saving taxpayers $1.7 million a year. But the officials at fleet management didn't stop there. Faced with budget pressures, they came up with a program in which the city now partners with nonprofit PhillyCarShare, enabling employees to "borrow" cars from nearby parking garages whenever they need them. It's more fuel efficient, more cost effective - and so creative that the vehicle-sharing program was named one of 18 national finalists for the Innovations in American Government Awards, which are overseen by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. "To be honest with you, it was a little disappointing that we didn't win. I think we would have made a push for publicity if we had," said Robert Fox, the department's administrative-services director and one of the brains behind the program. Out of 1,000 entries, seven won $100,000 each. Philadelphia and the other finalists "got an 'attaboy' with a nice certificate," Fox said. But his office also got this: the distinction of making Philadelphia the first government in North America to reduce its fleet by partnering with a local car-sharing provider.

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