Beebe issues orders on state car use; Keet responds

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 43 views 

Gov. Mike Beebe signed an executive order to curtail the personal use of state vehicles in response to a controversy spawned by an investigation of the practices conducted by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, according to this report from Talk Business.

Today (Oct. 5), Beebe announced that the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration has completed a review of information compiled about the entire fleet of state vehicles. That review has led to a searchable database of state vehicles, which can be accessed here.

Beebe also issued an executive order that supplants a policy directive in place for more than 20 years. The new order creates specific classifications detailing which employees will be assigned state vehicles, and vacates previous commuter exemptions. State employees using a commuting waiver under the old directive will need to reapply under the new system.

"We need to ensure the most efficient use of our taxpayer-funded vehicle fleet, and reduce the number of vehicles as needed," Beebe said. "This is the most thorough snapshot we have had of the statewide fleet. Combined with the new executive order, it will give us the tools we need to determine the proper use of state vehicles."

GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Keet told Talk Business that Beebe’s order is a good first step, but he questions why the Governor didn’t act sooner.

"The real question is: why did it take so long to react? The original Democrat-Gazette story came out on July 4th," said Keet. "It wasn’t until August 5th until he had it officially reviewed."

Keet said the review could have been expedited in less than a month, but he contends it should have never been allowed to happen in the first place. He also said that the Amendment 70 lawsuit filed by the Arkansas GOP would help resolve major issues surrounding the vehicle controversy and "get confidence restored in our constitutional officers."

Keet stressed that many of the measures Beebe’s executive order put in place today should have already been in place. When asked if he thought it should be permissible for a state employee to have a car for personal use, Keet said there should be limited exceptions.

"People in law enforcement should. It allows them to quickly respond to emergencies and keeps neighborhoods safer," said Keet. "If you can make an argument that it is more efficient for a state employee to take a car home to save money because they’re traveling somewhere the next day that would be okay. Those are the kinds of exceptions to the rule that make sense to the taxpayer."