‘Lax’ state vehicle policy too liberal, ex-official says

No one questions car purchases, Glasscock says

? Policies regarding vehicle purchases in Kansas state government were “lax” and allowed agencies too much autonomy to spend resources, according to a former state secretary of administration.

Joyce Glasscock, who served as administration secretary under former Gov. Bill Graves, said she was not comfortable with the limited restrictions placed on department heads when it came to vehicles.

“That seemed lax,” Glasscock said. “There was no one to say, ‘Do you really need to buy 20 cars?”‘

A review of records from fiscal year 2002 showed state agencies purchased within a month and a half of the end of the Legislature’s session more than half of the 135, never-used cars that were recently sitting on a state-owned lot. Forty-five of the cars were purchased on the last day of the fiscal year.

During that session, legislators cut funds for new vehicles for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2003.

The car buying may soon end. Howard Fricke, Glasscock’s successor, is preparing recommendations to better manage resources. Those proposals should be ready in about a month.

The state spent $21 million on cars last year, according to the Department of Administration. Spokesman Caleb Asher said it would take several days to collect data on how many cars were bought.

“That’s definitely a systematic problem that we’re working on, to try to get better data on everything,” he said.

Glasscock said the Administration Department’s role was to handle purchasing, contracts and other duties for state agencies, which must have their budgets approved by the governor and Legislature.

Once the budget was approved, she and Graves would not have intervened on spending decisions such as car purchases, Glasscock said.

“For his likes, that would have been micromanaging way too much,” Glasscock said.