Legislative oversight could be coming to the DMR - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Legislative oversight could be coming to the DMR


Scandals at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources have left a mark on the agency, a mark that Executive Director Jamie Miller has been trying to erase during his 11 months on the job.

Will a new state law help that process along?

"It's a good idea," Miller said. "We're glad that the legislature is engaged with our agency to try and correct some of the problems from the past. We're working with them closely to make sure that we understand their intent, and that we can carry out that intent moving forward."

The five CMR commissioners who helped provide a vision for the agency seem to agree, especially with the idea of an annual audit. One of the commissioners is Jimmy Taylor.

"I think it's good, but I think also that it shouldn't just apply to the DMR. It should apply to every state agency. I think every agency ought to have that in their budget," Taylor said.

Another commissioner is Richard Gollott.

"It's great if it's not there already. We need audits. That's one of the most important things you can do is keep up with where all this money is going," Gollott explained.

While the CMR commissioners and the director of the DMR say they support a legislative move to bring more oversight to the department, they also express concern about the personnel board keeping tabs on employees.

According to Miller, they don't need that anymore.

"We need to take the existing authorized positions in our agency and shuffle the deck in a few places. We're heavy in some spots, and we need more accountability in our finance office and in our compliance offices. So, that means moving positions and people, and we can easily if we're out from the personnel board," Miller said.

Taylor agreed.

"In reorganizing a company or whatever, you have to give the CEO some leeway to make changes that need to be changed even if it's just for a short period of time," Taylor said.

For now, it appears the time for change has arrived at the DMR.

If the legislation is passed by the House and Senate and sent to the Governor, Phil Bryant has indicated he would sign the measure into law.

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