Citifleece – how many vehicles?

How many vehicles were involved in the Dunedin City Council fraud? How many vehicles does the council own now? How many does it need?

While it appears that DCC wanted to bury the Deloitte report detailing the fleecing of Dunedin ratepayers a number of important questions remain unanswered. There seems to be an attempt to lay all the blame on Citifleet ‘team leader’ Brent Bachop, now dead and unable to talk. Others must have been culpable to some extent.

A bit of simple arithmetic shows discrepancies in the number of cars involved in the fraud.

Kevin Thompson, the group manager who oversaw Citifleet (or was supposed to oversee Citifleet) resigned in September. The report of his resignation in the ODT – Another senior council staff member resigns – quoted some vehicle numbers:

In February, in an interview with the ODT, he said the council had 174 vehicles, together worth $2.5 million, but was looking to rid itself of surplus vehicles to make savings.

Council staff last month clarified the council had 122 vehicles, although the value of the fleet was still ”being worked through”.

The Deloitte report quotes some different numbers in their Background at the start of the report.

1.1 In late May 2014 Dunedin City Council began investigating discrepancies that have been identified between the record of Council owned vehicles held by it’s insurance provider and the record contained in it’s Fixed Asset Register (FAR) held by the Council’s finance department.

1.2 [Redacted] (Council Financial Analyst) asked Brent Bachop (Citifleet Team Leader) to assist in identifying the reasons for the discrepancies. Initially a total of 129 vehicles still on the FAR were identified by Mr Bachop as being no longer owned by the Council (or in the possession of the Council).

The report says that over the period of investigation (July 2003-May 2014) 274 vehicles were disposed of, of those 152 were “high risk” – no proceeds for them were received by the Council – and of those the ownership histories of only 113 were obtained.

Some questions from these numbers.

  • Where did the number of 174 quoted to the ODT in February come from? It can’t have been from the Fixed Asset Register if Bachop was correct saying in May that 129 on the Fixed Asset Register were no longer owned by the Council, because that would have left about 45 still owned vehicles on the register.
  • About half of the cars disposed of were removed from the Fixed Asset Register and about half left on, about ten each year. Why wasn’t this noticed?  Or was it noticed?
  • The number on the register must have been growing at about ten a year, the annual budgets for vehicle replacement were around $350,000-$400,000 or about ten vehicles. Why wasn’t this noticed?  Or was it noticed?
  • This still doesn’t add up. Was the Fixed Asset Register already grossly overstating the number of vehicles in 2003?
  • Are the 122 “clarified” number of vehicles in August as listed in the Fixed Asset Register or has the number come from somewhere else? Lists of vehicles should match but they obviously haven’t in the past.
  • Is 122 vehicles a reasonable number for a Council with staff of about 900, many of whom are part time (657 full time equivalent in June 2013)?
  • If the Fixed Asset Register had 129 too many vehicles on it why did no one consider why the Council might have something like 250 vehicles? Or if they did wonder why it looked like one in three employees might have use of a vehicle why was nothing done until this year?

Was the inability to consider basic numbers involving vehicles just extremely lax, or negligent, or complicit?

I’m sure there are more questions that could be asked about vehicle numbers.