JACKSON, Miss. – On Monday, the Mississippi Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER) delivered their case study on State government purchasing contracts, which highlighted concerns over Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) contract and purchasing procedures.
On Thursday, September 28, 2017, the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor (OSA) released a compliance audit report for FY15 and a forensic audit report confirming the amount of misspent federal grant dollars in FY15 and FY16. The forensic audit was conducted by the State Auditor’s Office on behalf of the Office of the Inspector General – United States Department of Education. Because of PEER’s release, the OSA felt it was important to release these reports today.
In the reports, OSA outlined both MDE’s creation of an unapproved contract bidding process, which stifled competition and led to potential duplicate billing by awarding split contracts to ambiguously differentiated entities, and its inability to manage federal grants and lack of understanding of statewide accounting systems in the Office of Federal Programs, which led to collusion among MDE personnel and circumvention and violation of grant terms.
The OSA report on the MDE Compliance Audit for FY15 can be found at http://www.osa.ms.gov/documents/agencies/2015/2015MDE-Compliance-Audit.pdf
The OSA report on the MDE Forensic Audit can be found at http://www.osa.ms.gov/documents/agencies/2015/2015MDE-Forensic-Audit.pdf
“If we discover one red cent that has been misspent and diverted from our children and teachers, we will not hesitate to take full legal action against those involved,” said Stacey Pickering, “a culture of negligent oversight has pervaded the Mississippi Board and Department of Education as evidenced by last year’s $11.7 Million misspending gaffe. As Mississippians, we must rein this in for the sake of our future – the children and teachers.”
Pickering encourages anyone who might have knowledge of impropriety at the Mississippi Department of Education to report the actions to the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor at
1-(800)-321-1275 or online at http://www.osa.ms.gov/fraud/ saying, “Now is the time to stand up for our children.”
*The Mississippi Office of the State Auditor does not comment on pending investigations.