Pursuant to the Legislature’s statewide strategic plan, Building a Better Mississippi, publicly released in July 2014, and PEER’s authorizing legislation, PEER’s mission is
to improve the economy, efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of state government through its reviews of state agency programs and issues.
PEER seeks to achieve its mission through performance evaluations and expenditure reviews of state government programs and issues, background investigations of gubernatorial and other appointments requiring Senate confirmation, fiscal notes estimating changes to revenues and expenditures that would result from passage of a bill or concurrent resolution, resource- and content-limited research assistance to individual legislators upon request, audits of Department of Corrections’ compliance with purchasing regulations and inventory controls by the corrections auditor, support of the Legislature’s efforts to revitalize performance budgeting, and internal oversight of its own programs to ensure that they are delivered efficiently and effectively to the Legislature and the public.
Through its oversight function, PEER provides the Mississippi Legislature, as a whole, with objective, timely, and responsive analysis of issues of concern relating to government functioning. PEER takes exception to things that have gone wrong, explains why they went wrong, and suggests ways to correct the problem. PEER also provides evaluative reports that examine the value of government programs.
In the conduct of its work, PEER places utmost value on the accuracy, objectivity, timeliness, thoroughness and relevance of its work products and on the honesty, integrity, efficiency, and professionalism of its staff in executing the Committee’s work. PEER seeks to utilize the most rigorous research tools available in conducting its analyses, while communicating the results of its analyses clearly and concisely in language and graphics easily understood by the layperson.
The PEER Committee’s oversight responsibilities are statutorily defined in MISS. CODE ANNOTATED Section 5-3-51 through 5-3-79 (1972).
Who We Are
PEER is an acronym for the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review, a joint standing committee of the Mississippi Legislature. The PEER Committee consists of seven Senators appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and seven Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House. The Committee elects officers annually, with the Chairmanship and Vice Chairmanship rotating between the houses.
Section 5-3-65 of the MISSISSIPPI CODE authorizes the PEER Committee to employ necessary staff.
PEER employs a staff from diverse educational backgrounds, such as accounting, business administration, communication, criminal justice, economics, education, English, health, law, mathematics, philosophy, political science, psychology, public policy and administration, social work, and related fields. Emphasis is placed on obtaining professional staff who have earned advanced degrees and/or professional certification and who are skilled in research methods and communication.
PEER staff is organized into five offices:
- Performance Evaluation Office
- Performance Accountability Office
- Quality Assurance and Reporting Office
- Legal Office
- Administrative Office
According to PEER Committee rules, the Executive Director is responsible for supervising and coordinating the activities of all PEER staff. Since the Committee’s creation in 1973, the following individuals have served as Executive Director:
- John Hamilton: 1973–1977
- John W. Turcotte: 1977–1995
- Max K. Arinder: 1995–2015
- James A. Barber: 2015–present
The PEER staff currently consists of the following employees. PEER uses the format "firstname.lastname@example.org" for employee e-mail addresses.
View Staff Bios
As an integral part of the Legislature, the PEER Committee provides a variety of services, including program evaluations, economy and efficiency reviews, performance accountability reviews, limited scope evaluations, fiscal notes, special investigations, briefings to individual members, testimony, and other governmental research and assistance.
A published report is the most common product of a PEER review. PEER staff is available to brief committees or individual legislators on the contents of reports. Since its creation in 1973, PEER has published more than 600 reports.
PEER staff also provides confidential research assistance to legislators and legislative committees upon request.
Upon the request of the chair of the legislative committee to which an appointment has been referred, PEER staff performs investigations of the background of any appointee of the Governor or other appointee to a state board or commission requiring the advice and consent of the Senate.
Awards and Recognition
As a member of the National Legislative Program Evaluation Society (NLPES), a staff section of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), for more than fifteen years, PEER has been recognized by NLPES for producing reports that have had a positive impact.
Most recently, in 2016, PEER received the NLPES “Excellence in Evaluation” award. This award is presented annually to an office that has made significant contributions to the field of legislative program evaluation. The office is judged based on its impact, body of work, and furthering of the field of legislative evaluation. This is the second time PEER has been recognized with this award.
In 2016, PEER also received a “Certificate of Impact” from NLPES for its report titled The Comparative Efficiency of Mississippi’s Models of Youth Court Adjudication (Report # 588). To receive a Certificate of Impact, a report must have met two or more of the following criteria:
- dollar savings from implementing audit recommendations;
- program improvements as a result of implementing audit recommendations;
- impact from the Legislature’s perspective;
- impact from the public’s perspective; or
- impact from other organizations’ perspectives.