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State Auditor says MBN Director must repay $30k to taxpayers

State Auditor Shad White. Photo by News Mississippi
Courtesy of State Auditor’s Office

MBN Director will be required to repay compensation for claiming to be law enforcement and not obtaining proper payment authorization

State Auditor Shad White released an audit of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (MBN) which shows MBN’s Executive Director will be required to repay $30,122 to taxpayers.

The improper payments identified in the audit came, in part, in the form of compensatory time buybacks. “Compensatory time” is paid time off earned for working beyond traditional work hours, though, in some circumstances, agencies are allowed to pay employees for (“buy back”) that compensatory time instead of giving paid time off. In order to buy back this compensatory time, MBN is required to obtain permission from the Commissioner of Public Safety, and the Director of MBN was paid for compensatory time without that permission and over the objection of MBN staff.

In addition, compensatory time buybacks are much more limited for civilians than they are for law enforcement officers. Despite not being certified as a law enforcement officer, the Director of MBN asserted that he is a law enforcement officer and exceeded the compensatory buyback limitation for civilians.

The Director was also given a clothing allowance that, by state law, may only be utilized by law enforcement officers.

Mississippi law clearly defines the requirements to be considered a sworn law enforcement officer, and the executive director of MBN does not meet them. Law enforcement officers are required by law to meet the minimum qualifications set forth by the Board on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Training. The Director is not certified by that board.

Auditors also determined the Director circumvented the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the internal controls designed to prevent unauthorized buybacks. The federal protections created by FLSA are not intended for highly paid managers and directors.

“The Auditor’s office must fairly enforce the laws around spending. Everyone—whether you are a clerk in a small town or a director of a large state agency—must follow those laws. Enforcing the law fairly is exactly what we are doing in this audit,” said State Auditor White.

These MBN findings were made during a routine compliance audit. “Thank you to the Finance and Compliance Audit team of the Office of the State Auditor,” said White. “This audit is the result of their diligence and expertise.”

The audit report can be found online at the Auditor’s website.

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