JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi government agencies are doing a sloppy job of keeping records about vehicles they own, a watchdog group said in a report issued Monday.

Bad record keeping hinders the management of the fleet of state vehicles and hurts legislators’ ability to make objective decisions about how to spend tax money, according to the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review.

The committee, commonly known as PEER, said it found “numerous instances of incomplete, missing, inaccurate, and questionable entries” about the fleet of state vehicles.

The report said 21 percent of vehicles were recorded as having been driven at least 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers), and 32 percent were recorded as receiving at least 100 miles per gallon (100 kilometers per 2.4 liters) of fuel. A .22-caliber rifle was included in the state vehicle inventory.

The report said the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration should require agencies to undergo an annual audit to ensure they are submitting accurate information about the vehicles they have, how they are used and what kind of gas mileage they receive.

The Bureau of Fleet Management, which is part of the finance department, should determine whether some agencies’ vehicles are being used too seldom and should be transferred to other agencies where the need is greater, the report said.

Finance department executive director Laura D. Jackson said in a letter responding to the report that her agency provides a “comprehensive fleet management system” that is “grossly underutilized” in state government.

Jackson said a law enacted this year gives the department more power to compel agencies to comply with fleet management policies, including record keeping. The law prohibited most state agencies from buying or leasing vehicles during the current budget year, which started July 1.

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EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS
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