Finance Circular 00/02

University Vehicles

I am writing to bring to the attention of all departments owning or using University vehicles that Policy and Resources Committee and Council have recently approved the development of new policies governing all such vehicles, following the receipt of a critical audit report about which I wrote to the relevant departments last summer.

The audit report raised concerns about the purchase, maintenance and running costs of University owned vehicles.

PRC and Council have agreed, following consultation with heads of budgetary groups, that the University should have a centrally run vehicle fleet, so that separate departmental ownership of vehicles will be stopped. The Purchasing Services Manager has been asked to investigate in detail how such a scheme might operate. It could involve the appointment of a fleet manager to the University’s staff, or the use of a contract with a major firm such as, for example, Avis. It could involve either purchasing or leasing the required vehicles.

This note is just to bring the policy to your attention at this time and to let you know that proposals are being worked up with a strong steer from PRC and Council. It does, however, have specific short-term implications. Unless there are overriding urgent considerations, particularly as to why any needs cannot be covered in the short term by hiring, departments should not purchase any further vehicles, or replace existing ones without the agreement of the Purchasing Services Manager, Mr I P White. (They can of course be disposed of and this should also be done through Mr White). This will apply until the new policy can be implemented.

The specific proposal to develop a fleet, and to withdraw the use of departmental owned vehicles, came out of a discussion with heads of budgetary groups before the PRC meeting in December and went further than the proposals in the paper considered by PRC. However, the paper also contained other proposals which were approved, and your attention is drawn to these below:

All departments should use Shell Cards for refuelling University owned vehicles. Where such a system is not currently in use, Purchasing Services can supply the details to enable departments to use it. These cards are valid for all Shell and Esso outlets in England and Wales, all motorway services areas, and widely in Scotland, so there is very little reason for direct reimbursement to staff for refuelling University vehicles to be made any more, except in the most exceptional circumstances. Therefore, from 1 April 2000, individual claims will no longer be acceptable for refuelling University owned vehicles, except in specific circumstances which will need to be fully explained with the claim. Lack of availability of a suitable garage is not a reason in the majority of the British Isles since suitable planning will enable a participating petrol station to be found before fuel runs short. As well as small discounts, the use of this system is expected to bring administrative savings within the University. Departments in any doubt about the way the system operates should contact Mr White.

All departments operating University-owned vehicles must immediately introduce and maintain an up-to-date log of all journeys, in a format to be agreed with Mr White. A pro-forma of an acceptable logging system is attached. Departments should use this unless they reach specific agreement with Mr White about an alternative. If such a system is not in place by 1 April 2000, the vehicles must be taken off the road until it is. Those departments already using such a system are asked to check its acceptability with Mr White. The log must record all journeys undertaken. Private usage of University-owned vehicles must not be allowed. Permanent records must be maintained and may be audited at any time.

The auditors will be undertaking checks and reporting to the Audit Committee that these two procedures are implemented. In the meantime, the proposals for operating a fleet, together with migration procedures for moving from the present system, will be developed. They will include measures to project the University’s visual image as part of the operation of a fleet.

C R Showell

Director of Finance

17 February 2000