Grand Rapids Press: How remanufactured car parts can save taxpayers big money

In Michigan, cars are more than something you purchase; they are a way of life. Whether it is rebuilding a classic car in the garage, working for a parts supplier in West Michigan, or being directly employed by one of the "Big Three," nearly every Michigander knows someone or has a family member who is involved in the auto supply chain in some way. The impact of Michigan's highly skilled workforce and manufacturing sector can be seen across the globe. We want to harness that "Pure Michigan" talent to benefit American taxpayers by eliminating wasteful spending and creating jobs.

A 2013 General Accounting Office report found the federal government owns a fleet of approximately 588,000 vehicles divided among the United States Postal Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and various other civilian agencies. In fact, according to the report, the cost of maintaining this fleet has ballooned to nearly $1 billion. While there is a clear need for agencies across the federal government to have access to a reliable motor pool, it is equally as important that these vehicles be maintained in a cost effective manner to ensure taxpayer dollars are used in the most efficient way possible.

That is why we have introduced a bipartisan, bicameral solution to do just that. The Federal Vehicle Repair Cost Savings Act would encourage the use of remanufactured components when using those parts would lower costs, maintain quality and performance and does not compromise safety. Remanufactured parts are usually less expensive than brand new parts and have been returned to same-as-new condition using a standardized industrial process. Whether the needed component is an engine, a transmission, or a drive shaft, each repair presents an opportunity to be more fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars while maintaining the federal fleet. For example, a remanufactured alternator for a U.S. General Services Agency (GSA) Bluebird passenger bus cost about $850 with a 12 month/12,000 mile warranty. Now, compare that to a new alternator with a similar warranty, which would run taxpayers approximately $1,300.

Both the U.S. Postal Service and the Department of Interior have stated that they have reduced maintenance costs by utilizing remanufactured vehicle components when appropriate. The goal of this legislation is to encourage other federal agencies to adopt this more fiscally responsible approach. 

In addition to eliminating wasteful spending, this legislation serves as an important boost to Michigan's middle class and remanufacturing suppliers. The United States is the world's largest producer, consumer, and exporter of remanufactured goods. Remanufacturing of motor vehicle parts creates 30,653 full-time jobs across the United States. Here in Michigan, Valley Truck Parts employs 250 Michiganders, of which 175 work at the facility in Wyoming. North America Fuel Systems Remanufacturing, which graciously invited us to tour their facility, employs more than 150 people across Michigan, with 25 employees working at their facility in Kentwood. These are merely two examples that demonstrate how remanufacturing supports good-paying middle class jobs here in Michigan and can play an expanded role in making the federal government more efficient.

At a time when partisan politics in Washington too often reaches a fever pitch, we have found a way to reach across the aisle and put forward a commonsense proposal that reduces spending and promotes job creation in Michigan. We urge our colleagues here in Michigan and across the nation join us in the effort to save taxpayer dollars and support remanufacturing.

By:  US Senator Gary Peters and US Rep. Bill Huizenga
Source: Grand Rapids Press