Reuters

The GSA hopes it will save money. In the process, it could also help spread the idea much further.

The U.S. General Services Administration manages some 200,000 vehicles, cars used by federal government offices in cities around the country to attend meetings or visit communities. That's a massive transportation footprint (and a sizable budget item for the federal government). It may also represent a big opportunity to extend the reach of car-sharing.

This week, the GSA announced that it's looking for input from car-sharing vendors and industry experts on how it might broadly apply the concept to the government fleet. The GSA is primarily looking to save money by relying on car-sharing services instead of buying or leasing new vehicles.

"The second piece is that we think car-sharing will also help agencies realize that they don’t need as many cars as they already have and can then possibly reduce their current fleets," says Mafara Hobson, a spokeswoman for the GSA.

It's also conceivable that government car-sharing may help government employees realize the same thing about their personal vehicles. It's hard to imagine a larger single employer – the federal government employs more than 2 million civilians – with this much power to expose new users to the idea. If agencies incorporate car-sharing into the work culture for even a fraction of those employees, that would be a significant milestone in further normalizing it.

For now, the GSA says it's open to all kinds of models: car-sharing fleets reserved for government employees, or fleets shared with the broader public. The administration may also consider deploying car-share systems to manage the disparate fleets already held by multiple agencies in a single city. Given that several car-share services are regional, the government could also wind up working with many vendors all over the country.

Currently, Hertz, Enterprise, and Zipcar have small contracts with individual federal offices. But as GSA scales up the idea, with pilot projects planned in several cities, it's also hoping to expand that list.

For now, the agency is soliciting responses to a "market research questionnaire" about how all of this might work. Some of the questions (PDF) will probably sound downright quaint to anyone who's been following this space longer than Uncle Sam has. To wit:

Are there application fees? If so, how do they work? The Government would not be interested in paying an application fee for each potential driver - how can application fees be waived? If they cannot be waived, how would you recommend they be established and centrally managed?

Top image: Robert Galbraith/Reuters

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of a Google employee on a bicycle.
    Equity

    How Far Will Google’s Billion-Dollar Bay Area Housing Plan Go?

    The single largest commitment by a private employer to address the Bay Area’s acute affordable housing crisis is unique in its focus on land redevelopment.

  2. Equity

    Berlin Will Freeze Rents for Five Years

    Local lawmakers agreed to one of Europe’s most radical rental laws, but it sets the stage for a battle with Germany’s national government.

  3. A person tapes an eviction notice to the door of an apartment.
    Equity

    Why Landlords File for Eviction (Hint: It’s Usually Not to Evict)

    Most of the time, a new study finds, landlords file for eviction because it tilts the power dynamic in their favor—not because they want to eject their tenants.

  4. Environment

    Paris Wants to Grow ‘Urban Forests’ at Famous Landmarks

    The city plans to fill some small but treasured sites with trees—a climate strategy that may also change the way Paris frames its architectural heritage.

  5. A photo of a new apartment building under construction in Boston.
    Equity

    In Massachusetts, a ‘Paper Wall’ of Zoning Is Blocking New Housing

    Despite the area’s progressive politics, NIMBY-minded residents in and around Boston are skilled in keeping multi-family housing at bay.

×