Take good care of government vehicles

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Ray Jones
  • 341st Logistics Readiness Squadron commander
During the first 10 months of this fiscal year, the 341st Logistics Readiness Squadron's Vehicle Management Flight fixed $146,846.77 in damages to government owned vehicles that were either involved in accidents or vehicle abuse. 

Accidents are self explanatory, but vehicle abuse might be a concept not everyone is familiar with. Vehicle abuse is damage that can't be attributed to fair wear and tear or accidents according to Air Force Instruction AFI 23-302, Vehicle Management. 

Malmstrom Air Force Base's vehicle fleet has sustained 59,239.2 hours in down time for vehicles out of commission (VOC) due to accidents or abuse. That's nearly 2,500 days of down time, or enough VOC hours to take almost seven vehicles out of our fleet for an entire calendar year. 

The Vehicle Management AFI also specifies that all Vehicle Management Operation & Maintenance funds expended for vehicle accident and abuse repair costs will be reimbursed to Vehicle Management by the owning organization, or the organization responsible for the damage if not the owner. That means whether a government vehicle belongs to your unit or it's a loaner from the LRS, if you wreck it or abuse it, your squadron will lose money. 

In addition to our Air Force owned vehicles, the Government Services Agency maintains a vehicle lease program. The current vehicle fleet at Malmstrom is approximately 664 government owned vehicles and 192 GSA lease vehicles. If a GSA leased vehicle is damaged or abused, the Vehicle Management AFI directs that it must be repaired off base. These repair costs are higher than on base repairs because government employees aren't performing the labor required for the repair work. 

You're probably thinking, why does all this matter to me? Under the provisions of Air Force Manual 23-220, Reports of Survey for Air Force Property, you can be held financially liable for the loss, damage, or destruction of Air Force property proximately caused by negligence, willful misconduct, or deliberate unauthorized use. In most cases, vehicle accidents can be avoided by practicing sound risk management. Vehicle abuse, by its very definition, should be even easier to avoid by taking reasonable care of government vehicles, whether you're operating the vehicle or simply a passenger. 

Unfortunately, our track record this fiscal year has not been good. The amount of O&M dollars we've lost to vehicle accidents and abuse could have been spent much better elsewhere. There are important items on the wing's unfunded priority list we need to enable the mission such as cold weather gear, land mobile radios or sets of individual body armor. If we weren't spending scarce dollars on unnecessary vehicle repairs, we could have bought many of those items.

Our government vehicles are weapon systems, just like military aircraft, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles or the computer on your desk. So, whether you're an operator or passenger, I urge you to take good care of your vehicles.