By Stephen Hickok
DCMA Public Affairs
Government vehicle tracking hardware improves efficiency with the click of a button. (DCMA graphic by Stephen Hickok)
Coming soon to a parking lot near you, Defense Contract Management Agency’s new fleet telematics program promises to improve the efficient and safe use of government vehicles.
Telematics is a way of monitoring the status, movement, location and behavior of a vehicle dealing with long-distance transmission of vehicle information. Basically, a device installed in the vehicle tells a fleet manager where a vehicle is, how it is being driven and if it needs maintenance — all displayed over a secure web-based connection.
DCMA’s fleet manager, Nat Ortega, sees the program as an important upgrade in how government vehicles are maintained. “The telematics initiative allows oversight of the entire fleet or to focus on a group of vehicles and see what is happening at the click of a button,” he said. “It’s a fleet manager’s dream come true. Optimizing DCMA’s fleet will be the main goal while ensuring vehicles are available where needed.”
Installation of telematics devices is now mandatory for Department of Defense vehicles. The White House Office of Federal Sustainability requires the collection of vehicle diagnostics to include fuel consumption, emissions, maintenance, utilization, idling, speed and location data. DCMA plans to have all vehicles compliant before fiscal year 2019.
Efficiency goals of the program highlight several notable benefits. Near real-time data collection will improve the optimization of fleet size by tracking mileage, usage and needed maintenance. The automatic collection of data will reduce the number of man-hours needed to maintain the vehicles. Misuses such as speeding and travel to unauthorized locations could also be discouraged as improper driving patterns can be authenticated through the tracking.
“Telematics will allow DCMA to spend our dollars wisely while protecting the environment with fuel efficient vehicles,” said Ortega.
The new capabilities don’t come at the cost of security. According to DoD implementation instruction, the system will meet all cyber security requirements and location data will be stored securely to protect sensitive missions. “Telematics is a passive and secure system,” Ortega said. “That means it is only pulling data and not pushing data to the vehicle.”
In a memorandum of understanding outlining the implementation of the telematics program, DCMA also encourages employees to make use of carpools, mass transit and teleworking to further the agency's sustainability goals.
Besides a streamlined and easier workflow for him, Ortega says telematics is the right thing to do for the agency. “It’s only reasonable and responsible to use the resources available to their fullest potential.”
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