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Problems continue with occupational licensing boards in Mississippi

CASH MONEY: Unsecured cash for license renewals was confiscated from the Mississippi Board of Cosmetology in January. Photo by the State Auditor's Office

There's been nothing but bad news coming from Mississippi's occupational licensing boards and commissions.

State Auditor Shad White's office released a scathing report Monday detailing multiple abuses at the Mississippi State Board of Dental Examiners.

Among the allegations were:

  • A lack of oversight of the board's former executive director.

  • Non-compliance with state law on travel card purchases and reimbursements for travel.

  • Payments for licenses were not deposited in a timely fashion and the lack of a cash receipts log meant that cash could be lying around the office for months.

  • Board meeting minutes that were not approved properly, signed and posted as per state law.

The dental board isn't the only occupational licensing board with serious oversight issues.

The Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors was dinged by a Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER) report released in August that detailed issues with the board.

The biggest was with license fees, which weren't always deposited in a timely fashion according to a random sample. Two out of 25 in the sample used by PEER took 10 days between the check being entered into the board's records before being deposited into the clearing account.

According to the report, the board's office closing early in violation of state law, which says state offices must remain open 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays except for holidays. Also, board employees took leave for reasons not covered under state law.

The report also said there is a "lack of trust and mutual respect between board members and agency staff."

This is the same board that is suing a pair of entrepreneurs for not having a surveying license for the act of drawing property descriptions on satellite photographs.

In January, the auditor's office found numerous issues with both the Mississippi Board of Cosmetology and the Mississippi Board of Auctioneers. Like the dental board, there were serious issues with financial mismanagement and lack of oversight of board employees.

Like the dental board, the auctioneers' board didn't exercise proper oversight of their executive director, Kam Remsen, who was reimbursed for travel expenses during the same time she advertised to be able to meet with clients for her personal business.

Investigators also found several purchases with state funds to be of a personal nature.

In the report on the cosmetology board which covered fiscal year 2016, investigators from the auditor's office found more than $368,000 in checks and payments for cosmetology licenses — some more than nine months old — unsecured in the board's office.

Investigators also were unable to find any logs or record-keeping recording receipt of the funds, which were found stuffed into drawers and filing cabinets. Several checks were returned for insufficient funds, the auditor's report said, because of a delay between receipt and being deposited.

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