In an audit released today, State Auditor Thomas Schweich criticized the Missouri Highway Patrol's purchase of a $5.6 million airplane.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) did not perform a formal written analysis to justify the need to purchase an additional airplane, or to purchase a new airplane instead of a much less expensive used airplane.
Although the State of Missouri already operated 23 aircraft, including five passenger airplanes used primarily for employee transportation, the MSHP spent $5.6 million to purchase a new passenger airplane on December 17, 2012. Conducting a cost/benefit analysis before purchasing new or used airplanes would help the MSHP ensure the cost effectiveness of future purchases.
According to our analysis of 2012 flight data, before the purchase of this new airplane, a state-owned passenger airplane was always available for use. For the passenger fleet as a whole, there were 113 days on which none of the five airplanes flew, and no days where all five airplanes flew. Of the pressurized airplanes, there were only 58 days on which both of the State's two pressurized airplanes flew, and 159 days on which neither pressurized airplane flew. An analysis of demand, usage, and fleet availability prior to making significant purchasing decisions would help demonstrate the need for any future additions to the State airplane fleet. In addition, although not required by law, the MSHP should consider informing the legislature of its intent to make significant purchases by including them as decision items in its budget.