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Transmittal Notice

  1. Explanation of Material Transmitted:

    This manual chapter establishes the National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy and procedures governing the management and use of all NIH owned, leased, rented, or otherwise acquired  Government motor vehicles and associated equipment. This revision includes requirements and procedures to request a Daily Use vehicle rental.

  2. Filing Instructions:

               Remove: Manual Chapter 26101-38, dated 08/05/2016
               Insert: Manual Chapter 26101-38, 01/27/2023

  3. PLEASE NOTE: For information on:

This manual chapter constitutes the NIH policies and procedures governing the use, maintenance, and protection of agency-assigned Government motor vehicles and daily use rental vehicles.

The policies in this chapter apply to all NIH locations, but the procedures described apply only to NIH entities located in the National Capital Region. Institutes, Centers and Offices (ICO) management officials will institute local written procedures to enforce these policies for agency-assigned vehicles at all NIH facilities located outside of the National Capital Region.

  1. Acquisition of all Government motor vehicles will be through the Office of the Director (OD), Office of Management (OM), Office of Acquisition and Logistics Management (OALM), Office of Logistics and Acquisition Operations (OLAO), Division of Logistics Services (DLS), Transportation Management Branch (TMB) as the central ordering point for motor vehicle procurements. Procurement requests for any motor vehicle must be reviewed and approved by the NIH Fleet Manager.
  2. Agency-assigned and daily use rental vehicles are available to NIH employees for official business. Vehicles are also available for use by Federal personnel from other Federal agencies stationed at the NIH installation in Bethesda, Maryland. Federal regulations and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) policy prohibit the use of Government vehicles as transportation to or from unofficial activities including, but not limited to: trips to banks, credit unions, stores, or any stopovers for personal reasons during official trips, i.e., lunch.
  3. In accordance with 41 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 102-34.215(c), contractors may use a Government motor vehicle when authorized in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) for official purposes, only and solely in the performance of the contract. Contractors must adhere to pertinent Federal regulations and all policies and procedures within this manual chapter, and must:
    1. Establish and enforce suitable penalties against employees who use, or authorize the use of, Government motor vehicles for unofficial purposes or for other than in the performance of the contract,  and
    2. Pay any expenses or cost, without Government reimbursement, for using Government motor vehicles other than in the performance of the contract.
  4. Special Volunteers may NOT operate Government vehicles.
  5. In accordance with 41 CFR 101-39.300(d), smoking or use of any tobacco product is prohibited in all Government motor vehicles.
  6. When possible, employees traveling to and/or from the same point or general area should carpool. While operating a Government motor vehicle, employees must have in his/her possession:
    1. A valid driver’s license from a state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, or a U.S. territory/possession,
    2. A valid agency personal identification verification (PIV) card, and
    3. A Form NIH 1382-2, Motor Vehicle Trip Ticket.
  7. Executive Order (EO) 13043 and 41 CFR 102-34.250 mandates all occupants must use their seat belts when the vehicle is in motion. Federal employees and contractors must also comply with applicable seat belt use requirements under state and local laws when traveling in an agency-assigned Government motor vehicle or daily use rental.
  8. Employees may use the Fleet Credit Card to purchase any fuel, oil, and services required to keep the agency-assigned vehicle in proper operating condition. A Fleet Card is provided for each agency-assigned vehicle. The operator’s guide, located in the glove compartment, lists the allowable services. Operators of daily use rental vehicles must retain all receipts and return them, with the motor vehicle trip ticket, to the Fleet Management Section.
    1. The Fleet Credit Card user will be responsible for any charges made on the card that are determined to be an unauthorized use.
    2. Misuse of the Fleet Credit Card is prohibited and may result in disciplinary action.
  9. Regulations at 41 CFR 102-5.35 restrict the use of Government motor vehicles between the homes of employees and their workplace. Exceptions must be approved by the HHS Secretary pursuant to 31 United States Code U.S.C. 1344(b)(9) when there is:
    1. An immediate or imminent clear and present danger,
    2. An immediate, unforeseen emergency,
    3. A compelling operational consideration, or
    4. Strictly defined field work.
  10. NIH employees and contractor staff, who use Government motor vehicles, must park the vehicles to use hand-held wireless phones or other wireless devices. Use of these devices while operating the vehicle is prohibited. If the operator of a Government motor vehicle is ticketed or involved in an accident due to the use of a hand-held phone or other device, the operator will be fully responsible for vehicle damage and/or any legal action that may result.
  11. All repairs and preventive maintenance of NIH Government motor vehicles will be coordinated with local garages through the Fleet Management Section. In-house repair services are not available.
  12. Employee willful misuse or negligence, while operating a Government vehicle, is subject to disciplinary action which may include reprimands, suspension, or removal from Government employment.
  13. A Report of Survey (ROS) investigation and Vehicle Board of Survey (VBOS) must be conducted for the loss and/or damage or destruction of a Government motor vehicle when the value is $5,000 or greater, or due to negligence regardless of dollar value.

D. Definitions

  1. Agency-assigned vehicles - Government vehicles assigned to a specific Institute, Center, or Office (ICO) for official use only.
  2. Loss, Damage, or Destruction (LDD) - unintended, unforeseen, or accidental loss, damage or destruction to Government property that reduces the Government’s expected economic benefits of the property. Loss of Government property includes, but is not limited to:
    1. Items that cannot be found after a reasonable search,
    2. Theft,
    3. Damage resulting in unexpected harm to property requiring repair to restore the item to usable condition, or
    4. Destruction resulting from incidents that render the item useless for its intended purpose or beyond economical repair.
  3. Fleet Credit Card - a Government credit card designated solely for the payment of fuel and small maintenance services for Government vehicles. The Fleet Credit Card is for authorized purchases for the corresponding Government vehicle when operated for official purposes.
  4. Fleet Management Section – the program office in OD/OM/OALM/OLAO/DLS/TMB that manages NIH fleet assets
  5. Report of Survey (ROS) - an official report that documents the circumstances surrounding the loss, damage, or destruction of Government property. HHS Form 342 is used to record and present findings of the investigation, documents recommendations of the Board of Survey, to approve corrective actions, including financial recovery efforts, and to approve the resulting adjustments to property accountability records.
  6. Vehicle Board of Survey (VBOS) - a panel of three to five members appointed to review the ROS investigation findings and recommendations of financial liability and disposition for the LDD of Government vehicles. 

E. Roles and Responsibilities

  1. The Director, Division of Logistics Services (DLS) within the Office of Logistics and Acquisitions Operations (OLAO), Office of Acquisition and Logistics Management (OALM) is responsible for guidance, policy and oversight of fleet management and ensures compliance to all Executive Orders and regulations for the use, control, and disposition of Government motor vehicles.
  2. The Chief, Transportation Management Branch (TMB) within the DLS is designated as the NIH Fleet Manager who administers and implements the fleet management policy and guidelines and is the authority to review and approve the acquisition of new Government motor vehicles. The NIH Fleet Manager:
    1. Maintains accountability for all NIH-owned vehicles, including establishing record keeping and reporting systems to ensure the accountability of motor vehicle acquisition, use, life cycle management, operations and maintenance, and disposition,
    2. Approves replacement, addition, or removal of all agency-assigned vehicles and daily use rental vehicles,
    3. Ensures adherence to federal environmental standards, including fuel economy and consumption, and
    4. Submits mandatory data reports pertaining to motor vehicle acquisition, life cycle, identification, use, fuel consumption, and disposal.
  3. The Executive Officer (EO) of each ICO is the Approving Authority who administers the vehicle ROS and VBOS process. The EO is responsible for establishing written guidelines and adequate controls to ensure compliance with laws, regulations and policies governing the proper use of Government motor vehicles. When an ICO has remote locations that require establishing a separate motor pool, the EO must ensure that local procedures are in place which supplement and enforce NIH policies.
  4. The principal administrative office of each NIH organization is responsible for determining the most appropriate and cost-effective mode of transportation (i.e., public transportation, privately owned vehicle, rental vehicle, NIH vehicle) for NIH employees requesting transportation services.
  5. The Chief, Property Management Branch (PMB) within the DLS is designated as the NIH Property Management Officer and is responsible for reviewing and approving copies of the completed vehicle ROS.
  6. NIH employees and contractor staff who operate Government motor vehicles are responsible for the safe and proper operation of the vehicle, to include:
    1. Performing a pre-operational inspection of the vehicle to ensure that all safety equipment (lights, wipers etc.) is operational and that all fluids are within operating manual requirements’
    2. Locking and securing the vehicle when it is not in use,
    3. Observing and obeying traffic and parking regulations (vehicle operators are responsible for all fines associated with traffic and parking violations),
    4. Complying with the "Government Vehicle Operator’s Guide” located in the glove compartment of the vehicle. This guide contains accident reporting procedures and instructions for paying for fuel and other services or repairs needed. The employee’s organization reimburses all other incidental expenses (e.g., parking fees, tolls) through the OF1164 Claim for Reimbursement for Expenditures on Official Business, and
    5. Immediately reporting any Government vehicle accident (and resulting injuries) to their supervisor or Contracting Representative, and Federal, State, and local authorities as required by law.
  1. Obtaining a Daily Use Rental Vehicle. The Fleet Management Motor Pool provides daily/weekly rental vehicles in support of ICs sporadic short-term vehicle needs. The Motor Pool consists of government-owned sedans, minivans, 15-passenger vans, and a pickup truck. NIH customers may rent these assets to conduct local official government business and meet short-term official travel needs. In situations when a customer’s vehicle need exceeds this scope (longer duration, further travel area, larger/multiple vehicle(s) required), the Fleet Management Section will coordinate with a commercial vehicle rental vendor to support the ICO. For ICOs with travelers on official travel orders, it may be deemed more appropriate for the traveler to make their own car rental arrangements directly with a commercial car rental agency. However in instances when it’s deemed logistically advantageous, the Fleet Management Section will acquire the commercial rental vehicle and have it prepared and ready for the traveler to pick up and return to the NIH main campus Motor Pool.
    1. To initiate a vehicle reservation, requesters should visit the Motor Pool webpage for the current email contact and the required information needed. Reservation requests should be placed as soon as the need is known or at least 24 hours in advance.
    2. Once the reservation has been confirmed by the Fleet Management Section’s Motor Pool staff, the customer must complete the top portion of the electronic Form NIH 1382-2, Motor Vehicle Trip Ticket, and finalize it with a signature in the “authorizing official” block. Requesters/authorizers should ensure that the driver(s) listed have a valid NIH PIV card and a valid state driver's license prior to authorizing the trip ticket. After the authorizing official signs the form, the requester/authorizer should email the trip ticket to the Motor Pool staff (Prior  to the trip) to receive final confirmation and procedural details, such as key pickup and assigned vehicle tag number/location.
    3. Vehicles will be issued with a full tank of fuel but do not need to be returned with a full tank. A credit card for fuel and an EZ Pass toll transponder will be issued upon request. In the case of a breakdown or other emergency, contact information and procedures are in the vehicle’s yellow envelope usually in the glove box or center console.
    4. Cancellations must be received 24 hours in advance of scheduled pick-up time to avoid a one-day rental charge.
  2. Returning a Daily Use Rental Vehicle (24/7/365)
    1. Return the vehicle to the same location it was picked up at Building 12, Room 103, Fleet Management Section, Motor Pool parking area, near the front door/garage. and
    2. Deposit the keys (and credit card with receipts if issued) into the key drop box located at our building’s front door.  Motor Pool staff will retrieve the keys from the drop box, check in the vehicle, and close out the trip in our billing system.
  3. Obtaining an Agency-Assigned Vehicle. To order a new or replacement agency-assigned vehicle, the requester must:
    1. Submit the vehicle procurement request in writing to the NIH Fleet Manager (Chief, TMB, DLS) justifying the need for purchasing or leasing a vehicle,
    2. The request must be signed by the AO and include an Accounting Classification System (ACS) (formerly CAN) and a property custodial code, and
    3. If the request is approved, a vehicle will be delivered 90 days after notifying the General Services Administration (GSA). Agency-assigned vehicles are ordered October through March each year.
  4. Annual Re-Certification of Agency-Assigned Vehicles
    1. During the Annual Fleet Review, the Fleet Management Section will validate usage for agency-assigned vehicles. The following usage standards are required to justify re-certification of an Agency-assigned Vehicle:
      1. Sedans and station wagons - seven average days per month,
      2. Light Trucks (pickups, utility vehicles, and vans) - seven average days per month, and
      3. Medium and Heavy Trucks - six average days per month
    2. If the minimum usage standards cannot be met, utilization of daily use rental vehicles is encouraged in lieu of agency-assigned vehicles.
    3. Specialty vehicles, (i.e., snowplows, dump trucks) are excluded from usage standards as usage for these types of vehicles are contingent on seasonal weather activity.
  5. Vehicle Lifecycle Management
    1. Annual Vehicle Inventory. The Fleet Management Section will contact the IC/OD representative to coordinate the annual inventory of all NIH-owned and leased vehicles. The scheduled vehicle inventory will be conducted at Building 12 on the NIH main campus or other designated location.
    2. Declare a Vehicle as Excess. The ICO representative will contact Fleet Management Section to declare a vehicle as excess and to schedule the vehicle for pick-up or delivery to Building 12 on the main campus.
      1. Once the vehicle is in the physical possession of Fleet Management Section, the vehicle property record in the NBS property system must be transferred from the ICO custodial code to Fleet Management Section custodial code (06510).
      2. Fleet Management Section will complete the vehicle disposition process upon acceptance of the property record transfer from the respective ICO
  6. Obtaining Fuel for Agency-Assigned Vehicles on Campus
    1. The Fleet Management Section maintains a fueling station adjacent to Building 12, next to the Grounds Maintenance buildings. The fuel pumps are completely automated and open 24 hours a day.
    2. Operators dispensing fuel will:
      1. Ensure the vehicle is NIH property,
      2. Slide gas key into the gas reader,
      3. Enter vehicle mileage and enter the gas pump number 1, 2, or 3, and
      4. Begin pumping fuel.
    3. Contact the Fleet Management Section if a receipt is required.
  7. Obtaining Unscheduled Repair Service for Agency-Assigned Vehicles
    1. If a vehicle breakdown occurs while operating the vehicle within the National Capital Region, vehicle operators should call the Fleet Management Section at 301-496-4511. If a breakdown is reported during regular business hours, 7:00am to 4:00pm EST, the Fleet Management Section will arrange for towing and repair of the vehicle. If the required repair is minor and does not require the vehicle to be removed from service for safety or operational reasons, operators must report the required repair to the Fleet Management Section.
    2. When operating a vehicle outside the National Capital Region, vehicle operators are required to use the Fleet Credit Card for fuel and emergency repair service to keep the vehicle operational. If the vehicle repair is required during regular business hours, 7:00am to 4:00pm EST, operators must contact the Fleet Management Section at 301-496-4511. If the repair is needed after business hours, the repair must be reported during business hours, the next business day. All receipts, repair tickets, estimates, and other documentation must be retained and submitted to the Fleet Management Section.
  8. Vehicle Preventive Maintenance Program
    1. The Fleet Management Section is responsible for managing the Preventative Maintenance Inspection (PMI) Program for NIH agency-assigned vehicles. Quarterly vehicle maintenance inspections are crucial to vehicle safety and performance. The PMI program offers a systematic approach to NIH vehicle inspections with three objectives: 1) reduce vehicle downtime, 2) reduce vehicle repair expenses, and 3) extend vehicle life. The PMI program includes the following procedures:
      1. The Fleet Management Section will schedule regular maintenance for all vehicles in the NIH fleet. All agency-assigned vehicles will be made available for service according to the maintenance schedule,
      2. During the last week of every month, the Fleet Management Section will provide a schedule of all vehicles projected for service during the upcoming month to the ICO of the agency-assigned vehicles,
      3. If the agency-assigned vehicle is out of service for an extended period, the ICO may rent a vehicle by contacting the Fleet Management Section at 301-496-3426. The ICO is responsible for all costs associated with the vehicle rental,and
      4. Agency-Assigned Vehicle Billing. The ICO provided an ACS for its agency-assigned vehicle when the vehicle was initially ordered. The Fleet Management Section charges all expenses, including maintenance, to the ACS assigned. The Office of Financial Management (OFM), OM, OD processes the data at the conclusion of each month. OFM issues a monthly billing statement of Fleet Management Section expenses to the ICO. The billing statement provides the date of Fleet Management Section services, a description of the service, the cost of each repair, and the total cost of monthly Fleet Management Section expenses.
  9. Security Procedures for Vehicles. Security of Government vehicles is the primary responsibility of the operator. All vehicle operators must:
    1. Lock the vehicle and close the windows when it is not in use,
    2. Remove keys from the ignition of an unattended vehicle,
    3. Park the vehicle in a well-lit area, and
    4. Immediately report any suspicious activity to the NIH police or the local police department if the vehicle is located off-campus.
  10. Accident Reporting
    1. Operators are responsible for reporting all vehicle accidents, on or off campus, to Fleet Management Section immediately, 301-496-4511, and for completing Standard Form (SF) 91, Motor Vehicle Accident Report and SF 94, Statement of Witness. Copies of these forms are available in the vehicle’s glove compartment.
    2. Pursuant to 41 CFR 101-39.401, the employee or contractor vehicle operator must notify the following authorities immediately:
      1. Federal, state, and local authorities, as required by law, and
      2. The vehicle operator’s supervisor or Contracting Officer.
    3. The vehicle operator will obtain names, addresses, and phone numbers of the parties involved in the accident and of any witnesses to the accident.
    4. The vehicle operator must make no admission of fault regarding the vehicle accident except to his/her supervisor or Government investigating officer.
    5. NIH employees, who sustain an injury from a Government motor vehicle accident in the conduct of official business, must go to Building 10, Health Unit for a medical evaluation. Contractors must report any accident injury to their company representative.
    6. The vehicle operator must return all completed documentation related to the Government vehicle accident to the Fleet Management Section immediately.
  11. Report of Survey Investigation and Vehicle Board of Survey
    1. Report of Survey
      1. The ROS is an official investigation report that documents the circumstances surrounding the loss, damage and destruction (LDD) of Government vehicles with a value of $5,000 or greater, or due to negligence, regardless of dollar value. The HHS Form 342, Report of Survey is used to record and present findings of the investigation, documents recommendations of the Vehicle Board of Survey (VBOS), to approve corrective actions including financial recovery efforts, and to approve the resulting adjustments to the vehicle property records.
      2. The ROS investigation report may include photographs, police investigation reports, operator’s and witnesses’ statements, agency investigation report, completed SF 91, and any other pertinent accident data.
      3. As of February 2022, customers must use the Report of Survey Tracking System (ROSTS) to submit HHS-342 Forms.
    2. Vehicle Board of Survey (VBOS)
      1. The VBOS is an  panel of three to five members appointed to serve as a fact-finding body that  reviews the ROS investigation findings,  recommendations of financial liability, and disposition of the LDD of Government vehicles with a value of $5,000 or greater, or due to negligence regardless of the dollar value.
      2. The VBOS will make the final determination, of the facts surrounding the incident, and will forward the reviewed vehicle ROS to the Determining Authority for approval.
      3. The VBOS process is outlined in Appendix A.
  12. Claims
    1. The Claims Office, Division of Police, Office of Research Services (ORS), OM, OD handles all Government motor vehicle claims. The NIH Fleet Manager will provide copies of the completed vehicle ROS and all supporting documentation to the Claims Office.
    2. The respective ICO  will be responsible for the cost of repairs and/or replacement of damaged agency-assigned vehicles.

Appendix A: Vehicle Board of Survey (VBOS):

  1. Purpose.

    A Vehicle Board of Survey (VBOS) is a panel of three to five members appointed to serve as a fact-finding body that reviews the Report of Survey (ROS) investigation of the evidence and findings surrounding the loss, damage, and destruction (LDD) of Government motor vehicles, and makes the final determination of the recommendations presented to the Determining Authority for approval. The Board of Survey (BOS) panel established for the purpose of reviewing property ROS may serve as the VBOS. Refer to the Personnel Property Management Guides.

  2. Scope.

    The ROS and VBOS is required for the LDD of a Government motor vehicle when the value is $5,000 or greater, or for LDD due to negligence regardless of dollar value.

  3. Roles and Responsibilities

    2. Vehicle Operator - is responsible for the safe operation and protection of the Government vehicle, and immediately reporting any accident involving the Government vehicle in their care.
    3. Supervisor/Contractor Representative - is responsible for assisting the employee or contractor in reporting all accidents or incidents resulting in the LDD of a Government vehicle to the NIH Fleet Manager. Accident-related injuries should be reported to the NIH Safety Office.
    4. NIH Fleet Manager - is responsible for ensuring Government vehicles, involved in an accident, are assessed for damages, are in safe operating condition, coordinates repairs, and ensures a vehicle ROS investigation is conducted for LDD value of $5,000 or greater, or due to negligence regardless of dollar value.
    5. ICO Executive Officer (EO) - is delegated as the Appointing Authority who manages the survey process for their organization. The Appointing Authority;
      1. Appoints a Survey Officer and VBOS members,
      2. Forwards completed vehicle ROS to the NIH Fleet Manager for administrative review prior to the Determining Authority’s approval of VBOS recommendations,
      3. Forwards the VBOS recommendations to the Determining Authority or to the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) for legal review if financial liability is assessed, and
      4. Provides a copy of the completed vehicle ROS to the Property Management Branch within DLS for review and approval by the NIH Property Management Officer.  The asset will be retired from the database, if the vehicle is to be removed from fleet inventory.
    6. ICO Director - is the Determining Authority responsible for approving final determination of the VBOS recommendations. This authority may not be redelegated. The Determining Authority has the following responsibilities:
      1. Review the VBOS recommendations to accept, approve, or return the ROS packet for subsequent review or reconsideration,
      2. Ensure all approved ROS packets are coordinated with financial and property management personnel, and the NIH Fleet Manager for proper vehicle and property record adjustments, and the OGC for legal review if financial liability is assessed, and
      3. Ensure the NIH Fleet Manager receives a copy of the completed ROS for Government vehicles for proper claims processing.
    7. Report of Survey Officer - A Report of Survey Officer (Survey Officer) is appointed by the Appointing Authority to investigate the loss, damage, or destruction of Government vehicles and to make recommendations of financial liability and vehicle disposition. The Property Accountability Officer (PAO), Property Custodial Officer (PCO), and fleet management personnel are exempt from this appointment. Appointed Survey Officers must be a Government employee, GS-13 or above, Commission Corps Officer (any grade level), or a disinterested person. Survey Officer responsibilities include:
      1. Investigating the circumstances and evidence of accidents involving a Government vehicle or incidents that result in LDD of Government vehicles,
      2. Consulting with the Appointing Authority and/or NIH Fleet Manager for guidance as needed,
      3. Completing a thorough investigation, conducting interviews, obtaining signed statements, compiling, and reviewing all evidence/exhibits, and scrutinizing all available information to develop findings and recommendations, and
      4. Ensuring all vehicle accident reports/documents are included as supporting documentation to the ROS packet.
    8. Office of the General Counsel - The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) reviews all approved ROS that recommend individual(s) be assessed pecuniary liability for the LDD of Government vehicles. OGC provides a written opinion for the initial and subsequent legal reviews.
  4. VBOS Process
    1. For Government vehicle accidents or incidents of LDD with a value of $5,000 or greater, or due to negligence regardless of dollar value, the Appointing Authority will appoint a Survey Officer to investigate of the circumstances of the vehicle accident or LDD incident.
    2. The Survey Officer will conduct interviews; gather vehicle operator and witness statements, photographs, police reports, SF 91, any reports of injuries; and any other evidence or pertinent data.
    3. The VBOS reviews the ROS investigation findings and determines the facts and recommendations for financial liability and vehicle disposition (repair or removal). The VBOS forwards the vehicle ROS to the Determining Authority for approval.
    4. The Determining Authority reviews the VBOS recommendations to approve or return the vehicle ROS for subsequent review or reconsideration.
    5. The approved vehicle ROS is forwarded to the OGC for legal review, if financial liability will be assessed.
    6. A copy of the completed vehicle ROS is forwarded to the NIH Fleet Manager for claims processing and/or disposition of the vehicle.
    7. If the vehicle will be removed from fleet inventory, a copy of the completed vehicle ROS must be provided to the Property Management Branch within DLS to Final Event the vehicle property record.

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