OUR OPINION: Review and assess all of Mississippi’s boards

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s study of Mississippi’s sprawling infrastructure of boards, agencies, districts and other entities that comprise a regulatory bureaucracy that’s anything but small government should open doors for reform – efficient downsizing – once it’s turned over to Gov. Phil Bryant.

Most of the boards and commissions are described and members listed in what’s called the Blue Book, the 769-page Official and Statistical Register issued every four years as an official resource for people who need the information or deal in some business way with the regulated occupations, professions and agencies.

Hosemann said he has no power to change any of the agencies overseeing everything from Civil War monuments to cosmetologists, but had been asked by the governor to research the 205 entities so far identified.

Some have members appointed by the governor, some by the governor and legislators, some have employees hired by the board members and some function without employees. A few have extensive staffs and generate income as admission-charging attractions or by revenue from locally generated property taxes.

Some of the boards oversee facilities in one county; some encompass operations of various kinds in many counties connected by some common thread.

Most members of the boards and commissions can make a good case for their responsibilities and oversight authority, but a periodic examination and assessment of what’s needed under the state’s umbrella is necessary.

A fresh look could lead to consolidation, elimination in rare cases or a shift from state control to a regional or even county-level legal authority.

Some states in recent years have eliminated dozens of boards and agencies after evaluating necessity, form and function.

We hope Bryant considers not only the information coming from Hosemann about agencies, boards and commissions but also undertakes serious study of streamlining the state’s bureaucracy, especially using technology to speed operations, record-keeping and transparency for inquiring citizens.

If existing boards and commissions aren’t operating fully as their legal mandate allows they should be considered for elimination or consolidation.

In this age of Internet linkage every board and commission should be required to have a website with full information about function, costs, meeting schedules and responsibilities, as well as employees.

Mississippi’s leadership frequently articulates the need to reduce the size of government. The most convenient and sensible place to start might be in the long list of boards and commissions listed in the Blue Book.

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