Session Offers Exploration of Vehicle Specification

WHAT constitutes a good vehicle specification?

How do you ask the right questions of the purchaser and operator in order to obtain the right vehicle for the job?

How do you understand the logic used to select the proper type of vehicle for a specific use?

What about alternative methods of purchasing equipment? Which sources will allow you to obtain existing specifications, and how should they be evaluated to obtain the best product for the dollar value?

Those questions, and many more, will be answered by Douglas Weichman in "Developing Specifications to Select Vehicle Types," scheduled for Thursday, March 1, from 9:15 to 10:30 am.

A specification is defined as "a concise statement of a set of requirements to be satisfied by a product, material, or a process indicating whatever appropriate, the procedure by means of which it may be determined whether the requirements given are satisfied.

"In practice, a specification is a form of communication," says Weichman, director of the fleet management division for Palm Beach County, Florida. "It's what we want them to provide, the basis for the bidder's pricing, and information provided in the spec stands alone. It's also a part of a contract. When the bidder meets the spec, the buyer is obligated to pay the agreed price. It's legally enforceable. In writing the spec, you are writing the heart of the contract."

He says a specification must identify minimum requirements, allow for a competitive bid, provide for testing to ensure compliance, and provide for an equitable award at the lowest cost.

The key questions he says should be on the specifications checklist: Have you chosen the type of specification that most simply and clearly communicates your need? Are the specifications sufficiently specific to prevent loopholes that could allow bidders to evade supplying appropriate goods or services? Whenever possible, are they open and flexible to encourage maximum competition? Can the specifications or salient characteristics be checked or measured?

Weichman works with an annual budget of $18 million and supervises 67 positions within the division. His job is to purchase, maintain, and dispose of 3,000 vehicles/equipment and supply fueling services for 4,600 vehicles through 12 automated fuel sites, one aviation fuel site, and 22 tank vaults at fire stations.

Weichman has conducted numerous seminars and courses for the National Association of Fleet Administrators and has written articles for International City Management Association, Automotive Fleet, and Fleet Executive. He has a BS in automotive and heavy equipment technology from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan.

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