The lawmakers’ report says Mississippi has more restrictive prerequisites to qualify for barber licensure testing than 40 states.
On Monday, the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review, or PEER Committee, released a report titled A Review of the Mississippi Board of Barber Examiners.
The Mississippi Board of Barber Examiners (Barber Board) is responsible for regulating the profession of barbering in the state.
“The Barber Board experiences several issues that decrease the effectiveness and efficiency of the Board including: issues with regulatory activities, issues with financial management and controls, and administrative issues,” the report states.
As of June 6, 2022, the Barber Board oversees 35 licensed barber schools, 2,099 licensed shops, and 2,896 practitioner licensees.
The report adds that because the Barber Board and the Mississippi State Board of Cosmetology oversee licensees with similar scopes of practice and have both demonstrated substantial deficiencies in their operations, Mississippi could benefit from a solution that would help address the boards’ problems and also result in cost savings such as in the placement of both boards under the Mississippi Department of Health.
In order to conduct this analysis, PEER reviewed state agency appropriation bills from FY 2018 to present, applicable state and federal laws and regulations, and relevant data and documents provided by the Barber Board, including licensing data, financial records, inspection data, and contracts.
PEER also interviewed:
- The Barber Board and its staff.
- Personnel from the National Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC).
- Personnel from the National Association of Barber Boards of America (NABBA).
- Personnel from various state agencies including the Department of Finance and Administration and the State Personnel Board.
Some of the Committee’s major findings show that Mississippi has more restrictive prerequisites to qualify for barber licensure testing than 40 states. and that the Board’s examination practices are not effective in evaluating a candidate’s preparedness for licensure. In FY 2022, 39% of candidates’ attempts to pass the required licensure exams resulted in successful licensure.
PEER also noted that in FY 2022, the Board’s inspectors only conducted 191 inspections of the 2,134 barber shops and schools licensed by the Board.
Financial management is at issue, according to PEER. In FY 2022, the Board experienced issues with per diem and travel reimbursement, such as paying Board members for days in which they performed no official Board duties, reimbursing travel expenses without sufficient documentation, authorization, and receipts, and erroneously reimbursing staff at a lower rate for mileage than the rate set in state policy. PEER said the Board lacks an effective internal control environment, which increases the risk of financial mismanagement. It could also compromise the accuracy and completeness of the Board’s accounting records.
Further, PEER revealed that the Board’s lack of knowledge and expertise related to required retirement contributions cost the Board and its licensees $19,970.71 in delinquent interest payments. In addition, the Board might have extended its current lease with terms that are not in the state’s best interest and could have negatively impacted the Board’s budget.
PEER said Board records are insufficient to easily determine regulatory information and are not easily accessible to Board staff. Furthermore, the Board office is not located in a state-owned office building and has not been easily accessible to licensees or the public since March 2020.
The report recommends the Legislature should consider dissolving the Barber Board and the State Board of Cosmetology to create a Barbering Advisory Council and a Cosmetology Advisory Council within the Mississippi Department of Health’s Professional Licensure Division.
The report also recommends lawmakers amend state law to set minimum age and education requirements comparable to those in contiguous states, to allow practitioners to qualify for licensing examinations through apprenticeship hours in lieu of schooling hours, and to prohibit Board members from administering exams.
You can read the full report here.
The Mississippi Legislature created the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER Committee) in 1973. PEER provides a variety of services to the Legislature, including program evaluations, economy and efficiency reviews, financial audits, limited scope evaluations, fiscal notes, and other governmental research and assistance.
The PEER Committee is composed of seven members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House and seven members of the Senate appointed by the Lieutenant Governor.
State Senator Kevin Blackwell serves as the Chairman, State Representative Jerry Turner serves as the Vice-Chair, and State Representative Becky Currie serves as the Committee’s Secretary.
The Committee identifies inefficiency or ineffectiveness or a failure to accomplish legislative objectives, and makes recommendations for redefinition, redirection, redistribution and/or restructuring of Mississippi government.
As directed by the PEER Committee, the Committee’s professional staff executes audit and evaluation projects obtaining information and developing options for consideration by the Committee. The PEER Committee releases reports to the Legislature, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, the agency examined, and the general public.