Feds are asking for millions in mismanaged DUI grant money to be - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Feds are asking for millions in mismanaged DUI grant money to be repaid by DPS

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

It's no secret that Mississippi's budget is struggling, but new documents reveal that the feds are demanding millions of DUI grant dollars be paid back.

Why?

They claim the money was misspent. The documents reference that the misspending of the grant money happened between 2007 and 2010. 

This 2013 audit by the Inspector General for Highway and Transit Audits.

Here's the basics on what they told Mississippi, you got the grant money for DUI enforcement but that's not how you used it.

Instead, the audit notes the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety entered into grant agreements with state and local agencies, whose officers were conducting general law enforcement, like speeding tickets and seat belt violations. 

In fact, a closer look at the sample within the audit shows. Only 5% of the tickets issued by officers who were getting some of the grant money were actually for DUIs.

The blog Jackson Jambalaya asked for correspondence between DPS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 2016. DPS didn't release, but the national administration did.

It show that the feds demanded repayment of $7.1 million in September of 2015.

Despite the fact that this appears to be an ongoing problem, this was the first time Representative Andy Gipson had heard anything about it.

"These monies were obviously earmarked for the sole purpose of enforcing against drunk driving on the roads," noted Gipson. "We spent a lot of time and a lot of effort up here in the legislature to pass laws and improve our DUI laws ... to get them recognized by MADD as the best in the country. And to see this not being used for that purpose is troubling. Very unfortunate."

But it also makes him wonder, are there other agencies not in compliance with the terms of federal grant dollars?

"It's almost like a hidden liability," said Gipson. "So we need to find out going forward if these sort of things exist. So we can account for them."

Governor Phil Bryant's Communications Director sent this statement:

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to resolve the matter that arises from issues in fiscal years 2007-2010. Gov. Bryant has always insisted that taxpayer money be used appropriately.

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