Jason Barber has worked in State Government for approximately 33 years and retired at the end of 2020. Jason has worked for several state agencies in that time (Revenue, Workers Compensation Insurance, Justice, Finance and Corporate Securities, Oregon Youth Corrections and currently with Department of Agriculture). He started to work with Fleet Management with ODA within the last 8 years.
Q: Tell us a little bit more about the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Fleet.
A: ODA is one of a few agencies in Oregon State Government that is allowed to manage its own fleet. We have a total of 268 vehicles in the ODA fleet with 244 of those being mostly light-duty trucks, compact SUV’s, minivans and sedans. The other 24 specialty vehicles are mostly heavy capacity scale trucks and bulk fuel trucks used by our Weights and Measures Program. ODA uses an enterprise fleet management model with seven sites around the state with vehicles and two of those sites using kiosks for automated motor pool reservation and check out (Salem HQ and Salem Hawthorne Yard). We also have a large number of staff that have permanently assigned vehicles and who work out of their home offices in the field. We also keep a seasonal fleet of approximately 40-50 older/higher mileage vehicles at our Hawthorne Yard to be used by seasonal staff. So in essence, ODA has three fleets within one permanently assigned, seasonal and motor pool vehicles that can be checked out and used by all staff when needed.
Q: What were some of the fleet challenges you faced before implementing fleet technology? What problems did technology help you to solve?
A: Prior to adopting an enterprise model, each of ODA’s 36 programs was in charge of purchasing, maintaining and managing their own vehicles. This was very labor intensive, created a large variety of vehicles in the fleet and would take someone several minutes, if not hours to find a free vehicle to use for a trip. Vehicles were not always accounted for and utilization suffered on some. Mileage was not always entered in a timely fashion for billing purposes, accidents did not always get reported, preventive maintenance was not always consistent, repairs were not always done and older vehicles that may have been prone to safety concerns were not always being turned into State Surplus Property when they should have been. Moving to a enterprise fleet model and using FleetCommander fixed all of the issues mentioned above, plus it automated the motor pool process and reduced the number of bodies involved in fleet management which increased the consistency of fleet data. We also have to create a series of fleet and fuel reports for our Executive Branch and Department of Energy each year. This is now much easier with using the reports on FleetCommander.
Q: What are some of the major fleet cost savings initiatives you’ve accomplished since being at Oregon Department of Agriculture? Have you been able to right-size?
A: Cost savings have included the following: ODA has been able to increase its vehicle utilization due to better tracking of vehicle assignments, mileage reporting, the ability to move vehicles around to drivers that put more miles on a vehicle thanks to the report writing and analyses of data in those reports. ODA also reduced the model and type of vehicle it purchases to gain economies of scale, then purchases are made and making sure the new vehicles can be repurposed to the seasonal fleet when certain mileage or age milestones are reached. Due to better data, we can review maintenance and fuel data and surplus problem vehicles. Fuel and maintenance costs have gone down. The reservation of motor pool vehicles has been greatly improved with moving to a fully automated process that only takes a few minutes to reserve and check out. Our agency has increased substantially from 2011 through 2020, both in terms of staff, workload and responsibility. Surprisingly, our light duty fleet/vehicle count back then was approximately 237 vehicles. We have only needed to add 7 vehicles since that time through today. Impressive.
Q: What’s your plan for retirement? What are you looking forward to doing?
A: Prior to COVID19, I had trips planned to Canada and Italy. Will do projects around the house until pandemic is over. Also will do landscaping and roof cleaning business on the side to stay active and get outside.