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To Save Cars, Drive More

Saturday, September 30, 2006 by Slaughter Development

In Fairfax County, Virginia, a government auditor noticed that many of the vehicles in the official government fleet were barely used. In response, the county agreed to reassign cars which were driven less than 4,500 miles annually. The change inspired some bureacrats to come up with excuses to travel, just so they would not lose their coveted government vehicles.

As explained in a Washington Post article, creating an artifical mileage limit just provided an incentive to surpass the limit. Some managers are busy “coordinating vehicle swaps among their employees to ensure that vehicles hit the magic 4,500-mile target” while others are simply urging workers to drive more. They seem willing to try almost anything to avoid losing vehicles. The Board of Supervisors response? Raise the threshold to 5,000 miles.

A core tenet of managing resources in an organization is understanding the interplay of incentive. Employees who are provided something of tremendous utility, such as a company car, would prefer to keep the benefit. Establishing an arbitrary criteria for removing the the resource is just an incentive to game the system.

Instead, groups such as Fairfax County should consider a metric based on legitimate usage, not just distance. If your organization needs to evaluate resource allocation in the context of workflow, consider contacting Slaughter Development today.

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