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Audit highly critical of State Board of Dental Examiners

September 17, 2018

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi state auditor’s report is critical of the state board that licenses and regulates dentists.

The Clarion-Ledger reports the compliance audit is for the Mississippi State Board of Dental Examiners details what state Auditor Shad White called alarming management practices, including evidence that board staff was allowed to consume alcohol on the job.

Among other findings, it says the board exercises no oversight over its executive director. It says there were instances of noncompliance with state law related to travel card purchases. And it outlines times when excessive compensatory leave was awarded to the former executive director and deputy executive director.

Board president Frank Conaway Jr. had only limited comments on the report Monday, telling the Clarion-Ledger, “The report pointed out some things and we corrected them.”

The report details findings related to the current board members, former executive director and several other employees.

“What we found at the Dental Board is an example of particularly bad management,” White said. “The staff at the board failed to follow proper procedures when making purchases, failed to separate purchasing duties (which can lead to fraud), held cash that should have been deposited for too long, failed to follow proper bookkeeping procedures, and accumulated excessive comp time.”

The report details findings related to the current board members, former executive director and several other employees.

In July, longtime executive director Diane Howell abruptly resigned after a lengthy executive board meeting. She had been there 24 years.

The deputy director, who was serving as interim executive director, abruptly resigned last week prior to the release of the auditor’s report. Her resignation is effective September 30.

“Going forward, the board needs to choose its director carefully and then engage in closer oversight of the staff,” White said. “The taxpayers and licensees funding the board deserve better. I also hope this audit reminds the boards of other small agencies to take a closer look at how those agencies are being run and to engage in closer oversight if necessary.”

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