- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Internal controls over day-to-day operations appear adequate in the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, according to an auditor’s report that also said improvements are needed in budget preparation and planning.

DPS spokesman Warren Strain said in a news release Wednesday that Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz requested the performance audit by State Auditor Stacey Pickering in the name of transparency.

Strain said the audit, from fiscal year 2009 to the present, shows DPS has been in compliance with state laws and regulations. However, the report also said the DPS had a hard time providing some “budget and financial reports,” and the auditors had to rely on the Department of Finance and Administration for some information.

“We were confident we were adhering to proper procedures and were not afraid of scrutiny,” Santa Cruz said in the news release. “The audit shows we have been and are compliant.”

Others said the report supported complaints they’ve had about the agency.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said in a news release that the report “found numerous serious shortfalls that confirm complaints” against the agency by some legislative leaders.

“In his independent but limited scope investigation of this agency, Auditor Pickering has confirmed what many concerned legislators have been saying over the last year: DPS lacks the management and fiscal expertise to run a $100 million agency,” Reeves. “I was disappointed, but not shocked, to read that the information requested by the Audit Department could not be produced by DPS.”

Strain said the information was available, just in a different format than the auditor had sought.

Strain also noted a part of the report that said changes over the last past 12 to 18 months have added “accountability and stronger controls.”

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