JACKSON, Miss.- Lawmakers gathered at the Capitol in Jackson to hear from the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, Department of Human Services, Child Protective Services, and Information Technology Consolidation.
Representatives from each department appeared before several lawmakers including Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn, Senator and Chairperson of the Medicaid Committee Brice Wiggins, and many others. Each department was required to answer a set of questions regarding how funds were allocated within the agency and where the majority of funds were coming from, federal or state.
The focal point of the meeting was the set up of MDHS and MDCPS, two agencies that were formerly one and have now split.
Questions asked to the agencies included:
- What are some internal policies that your agency has in place when it comes to the purchasing and replacing of equipment?
- Does your agency purchase vehicles? If so, why?
- If your agency receives federal funds, do you use federal funds to replace equipment before you use state source funds?
- Does your agency use procurement cards? Can you provide an itemization of those expenditures?
- Do you lease equipment? What are some items that you lease instead of purchase, and what factors lead to this decision?
- Do you have a procurement officer on staff? Who oversees the day-to-day purchases in your agency?
MDHS was up first to provide this information to the committee members. They function under the guidelines of the State of Missisisppi, MS Procurement Manual and do have consolidation contracts, sub-grants, and procurement under the umbrella of Budgets and Accounting in an effort to prevent frivolous spending.
MDHS has purchased vehicles for traveling in and out of the state, however the split into MDHS and MDCPS has caused problems for the newly created MDCPS who is still required to share vehicles when necessary to transport equipment with MDHS.
MDCPS did request consideration to purchase at least one vehicle for use by case workers. Representatives claim this purchase is necessary to to transport IT equipment throughout the state.
Lawmakers did question this need, recommending a study be done by MDCPS on whether the cost of tracking personal mileage versus buying a vehicle for use would be more cost effective in the long run.
Both agencies operate through federal and state dollars. State dollars primarily going to salaries and federal funds being used to replace and restore equipment when necessary. MDCPS said that equipment evaluations usually happen every three years.
Right now only MDHS holds procurement cards, which are also shared with MDCPS. Both agencies generally lease equipment that could be more costly to purchase.
Lawmakers questioned how much of that equipment was used by employees who worked from home.
With the recent split of agencies MDCPS is seeing a slowing in their current hiring push, focusing more on maintaining those jobs and moving forward with the staff they currently have.
Procurement card charts were also provided for review, in a continued attempt to monitor spending through these agencies.