JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi government agencies are spending most of their travel money in-state rather than out-of-state.
A legislative watchdog released a report Wednesday about travel spending during the budget years that ended in June 2015 and 2016.
About 81 percent of agencies’ travel money was spent inside Mississippi each of those two years, and just under 19 percent was spent in other states. International travel was a minuscule portion — one-half of 1 percent, or less, each year.
For each of those years, the Department of Human Services spent the most on travel, followed by the Department of Health and the Department of Transportation.
The report didn’t name employees but said Human Services spent the most on in-state travel for one worker, at $35,345. The Department of Revenue spent the most on out-of-state travel for one worker, at $40,819.
Travel spending decreased for the two years in the report compared to the two years before those, according to the report by the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review, or PEER. The decrease came amid tighter state budgets set by lawmakers.
About 43 percent of travel by state employees for the two years was paid by grants or federal money.
The report compares state government travel spending for Mississippi and its four surrounding states.
For each of the two years, the top travel spender was Tennessee, followed by Alabama. Mississippi was in the middle in spending each year, followed by Arkansas and then Louisiana. The Louisiana numbers don’t include travel spending by the legislative or judicial branches.
PEER recommends that the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration take several steps to improve record-keeping, including requiring vendors to report information in a “consistent electronic format” that gives details about how money is spent for airline tickets, lodging and other expenses.