Had California not changed its policy to allow for the purchase of E85 vehicles, the state would have risked significant fines from the federal government. The editorial also claimed that the state’s E85 vehicles have never been fueled with ethanol. This is not true. In 2006 alone, the state used 8,000 gallons of E85 fuel and will use well over 20,000 gallons in 2007. The pilot program mentioned in the editorial was an agreement between Caltrans, the California Environmental Protection Agency, the Air Resources Board, Chevron and GM – the Department of General Services was not part of the program. Because the department’s Procurement Division is responsible for buying vehicles in accordance with state competitive bidding laws, and DGS Fleet Administration approves the purchase of state vehicles, DGS could not participate in the pilot program. This makes it impossible, as your editorial suggests, for the state to have agreed to buy flex-fuel vehicles from GM before the bid was issued, since DGS – the agency responsible for procurement – had no role in the program. The state’s flex-fuel program was conducted publicly and yielded results that are remarkably consistent with that which has been in place for years. As director of the department responsible for ensuring a fair and open bidding process on state contracts, I am proud of our civil servants who work every day to ensure that the integrity and objectivity of the process is protected. Readers of the Daily Breeze and all Californians can be assured that DGS officials have always and will continue to conduct fair and open bidding processes in accordance with the law. Will Bush is director of California’s Department of General Services.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The 2006 alternative-fuel vehicle contract issued by the state Department of General Services was a normal invitation for bid. This process automatically selects the lowest bidder. While GM was the only manufacturer to bid on the E85 flex-fuel sedan class, it is common to have only one manufacturer represented in bids for vehicle contracts. For example, Honda has been the only bidder on the state’s compressed natural gas (CNG) passenger vehicles since 2002. And in 2002 and 2003, Ford was the only bidder on the same flex-fuel vehicle contract that GM is accused of getting unfairly in 2006. At the time, GM was the only manufacturer that made flex-fuel vehicles that were certified for sale in California by the California Air Resources Board. All vehicles sold in California must go through this testing and certification process – it is not just a requirement for vehicles purchased by the state, as suggested in the editorial. The state amended its vehicle purchase policy in 2006 after a deliberative process that revealed the following: The state would likely fail to meet federal Energy Policy Act regulations unless we added E85 flex-fuel vehicles to the annual contract. The federal law requires 75 percent of light-duty and passenger vehicles purchased by state governments every year to be alternative-fuel vehicles, or AFVs. Before the policy change, the state prohibited the purchase of alternative-fuel vehicles that did not have ready access to alternative fuel. Due to diminished demand, automakers had stopped making the bi-fuel CNG vehicle, which had been the mainstay of the state’s ability to meet Energy Policy Act regulations. As a result, the General Services staff recognized the need to replace the bi-fuel CNG model and resume purchasing E85 vehicles, which had been purchased from Ford in 2002 and 2003. Editor’s note: The editorial discussed in this column was based on news accounts about California’s flex-fuel program. By Will Bush The Daily Breeze’s Thursday editorial, “State flex-fuel program takes odd turns,” contained inaccuracies about the state’s flex-fuel vehicle fleet and the 2006 state contract with General Motors to supply the fleet with flex-fuel E85 vehicles. First and most important, there is no link between the governor’s relationship to General Motors and our purchasing decisions. The Governor’s Office did not direct us to any manufacturer, and we did not agree to buy flex-fuel vehicles from GM before we issued the bid.