Monday, August 30, 2004

$11 million Saved by Streamlining Personnel, Removing 81 Vehicles, 52 Cell Phones

(Jackson, Miss.) – Governor Haley Barbour along with Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) Commissioner Chris Epps today announced cost savings of over $11 million in the agency’s effort to streamline day-to-day operations. Cost containment measures identified by the MDOC include reduction in staff, elimination of positions and reorganization.

“The Department has worked hard to find cost savings which are a part of our ‘Operation: Streamline’ efficiency plan that will aid in eliminating Mississippi’s now $411 million budget shortfall,” said Governor Barbour. “I appreciate the Legislature’s moving the MDOC out from underneath the Personnel Board so we could have the authority to make that agency more efficient. This proves that, working together, we can dig Mississippi out of this budget hole.”

MDOC reports an 11.8% decrease in personnel during the first eight months of the calendar year, lowering the agency’s annual salary cost by $11.6 million resulting in a 9.4% decrease in annual salary cost. Annual staff salaries were $123 million in January 2004 compared to August 2004 annual salaries of $112 million (includes state employee insurance hikes).

“Operation Streamline and House Bill 1279 allowed us to move the agency forward by focusing in on those employees who were abusing the system,” said Commissioner Chris Epps. “By terminating employees who were not coming to work, a significant savings was produced - not just in salaries, but in overtime costs as well.”

The agency has eliminated 164 positions during June, July and August resulting in an annual cost savings of $5.6 million for the state. These personnel actions were carried out under the authority of Section 13, House Bill 1279 which exempts employees at the central offices of MDOC, the State Penitentiary at Parchman and the Central Correctional Facility in Rankin County from State Personnel Board procedures for one year. The Bill went into effect on May 27, 2004.

“These terminations in no way affect the safety at our correctional facilities. Many of the terminated employees were not coming to work consistently which means they were not providing protection in the first place,” said Epps. “It was time for the Department of Corrections to address our staffing situation, and I am thankful to finally have the opportunity to streamline that inefficiency.”

Further cost saving measures included:

- $375,000 in savings associated with reorganizing upper level positions;

- $4 million in savings associated with resignations and other terminations of non-security staff at the Central Office, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, Mississippi State Penitentiary and South Mississippi Correctional Institution for the period of February 2004 to August 2004; and

- $1.5 million in savings associated with correctional officer reductions due to closure of Units 10, 12, 24 and 22 at the Mississippi State Penitentiary.

In addition to personnel actions, MDOC has removed 81 vehicles from its fleet of operation in order to streamline maintenance cost, and also has eliminated usage of 52 cell phones and pagers.

“The Mississippi Department of Corrections staff is committed to carrying out our mission of providing public safety while aggressively developing cost saving solutions that reduce the fiscal burden on state revenues,” said Commissioner Epps. “I am pleased with the progress we are making to be more efficient, and I am convinced that with continued hard work, we will meet the challenge.”

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Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS 39205
Phone: 601.359.3150 Fax: 601.359.3741

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