SANTA FE, N.M. — The questions raised about Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block Jr.’s use of his gas cards – such as closely spaced fill-ups in the same day – have spurred the PRC to clamp down on employee use of the state’s credit cards and vehicles.
At the regulatory body’s regular meeting Thursday, the five members unanimously approved changes to policy on vehicles and gas cards.
The changes to be instituted immediately are: n Write Express, contracted by the state to handle gas accounts, will institute a system that sends an email to a PRC fleet coordinator (or some official there) when more than one fill-up per day is registered on any account.
• Employees who have PINs that are the last six digits of their Social Security numbers will be encouraged to change their PIN to some other number.
• The PRC staff will regularly check the driver’s license status of employees who use state vehicles. (Block had been using a state vehicle for about a year after his driver’s license had been suspended.) The state Taxation and Revenue Department has agreed to allow the PRC to access its records at no charge, PRC Chairman Pat Lyons said.
• Mandatory training will be conducted on gas card usage for registered drivers of state vehicles.
• A consistent vehicle mileage tracking system will be instituted, requiring drivers to log name, date, mileage and destination for each trip.
• Division directors will be required to review and approve gas card invoices and activity on a monthly basis.
In the longer term, the PRC will establish a fleet manager position within its Administrative Services Division, who will focus on instituting a vehicle check-out system, ensure mileage logs are being used consistently, and keep track of other issues involving the fleet, including maintenance of vehicles.
The PRC will also refine policy to limit how gas cards can be used to buy nongas items, and employees will be required to report any change in the status of their driver’s license.
Those longer-term changes will have to be approved by state workers unions before they can be implemented, PRC chief of staff Johnny Montoya told the commission.