A Zipcar vehicle parked in one of the company's spaces in Washington, D.C.
Photograph by Andrew Harrer — Bloomberg/Getty Images
By Ben Geier
October 2, 2014

The federal government is joining the sharing economy.

The U.S. General Services Administration announced today that it is launching a pilot program, contracting with four different car rental companies to provide cars for short-term use by employees who currently use one of the 200,000 cars owned by the GSA.

The four companies under contract are Enterprise CarShare, Hertz (HTZ), Zipcar and Carpingo. This will be an option for federal government employees in Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston, and Chicago.

The GSA will allow employees to rent these cars on an hourly basis for time frames not to exceed one day. The initial pilot program will last one year.

The agency will see if the pilot program proves to be more cost-effective than maintaining the current vehicle fleet, or using other methods o transportation.

“These pilots will tell us whether it is more cost-effective and beneficial to use a car-sharing service in lieu of taxi cabs, renting, leasing and/or purchasing a vehicle,” said GSA Federal Acquisition Services Commissioner Tom Sharpe. “That information will be a great step forward to reducing costs and the federal fleet over time.”

Enterprise noted in a statement that the company has worked with the GSA before this, winning the first GSA contract in the rental industry in 2006, to provide supplemental vehicles.

Zipcar has also worked with the GSA before, said president Kaye Ceille. That was another pilot program in some cities in 2011.

Ceille guessed that if the GSA could cut their fleet by even 1-3%, the total savings could be between $10 and $20 million.

Hertz and Carpingo were not immediately available for comment.

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