State Politics

The man brought on to rebuild DMR is leaving. Here’s where he’s going.

Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Executive Director Jamie Miller, who was picked to rebuild trust in the scandal-ridden agency, is leaving to join the Mississippi Development Authority.

According to a release from the Gov. Phil Bryant, Miller will be deputy director for governmental affairs and chief innovation officer.

Brig. Gen. Joe Spraggins, who has served as DMR’s chief operations officer since 2013, will take Miller’s place at the DMR.

Miller, DMR’s executive director since 2013, will be the MDA deputy director for governmental affairs and chief innovation officer.

“Jamie has served the people of Mississippi well at DMR,” Bryant said. “I know he will continue to improve our state at MDA. DMR is in good hands with Gen. Spraggins assuming leadership, and I am pleased he has accepted this appointment.”

Miller took over at DMR after former Executive Director Bill Walker was fired. Walker eventually served prison time for crimes committed at the DMR. Several other DMR officials and employees were convicted in a wide-ranging scandal at the agency.

While Miller was at the agency, the DMR Reorganization and Accountability Act was adopted by the Legislature and signed by Bryant. The law required annual audits, created an Office of Restoration and Resiliency and added three key agency positions — chief scientific officer, chief financial officer and marine patrol chief.

Miller was on the Governor’s Oyster Council on Restoration and Resiliency that Bryant told to find ways to save and enhance the state’s oyster industry.

Before coming to the DMR, Miller was chief of staff for Rep. Steven Palazzo and a policy adviser to Gov. Haley Barbour’s Office of Recovery and Renewal, where he helped develop Community Development Block Grant programs, including the expansion of the Port of Gulfport, after Hurricane Katrina.

At the MDA, Miller will serve as disaster recovery administrator and oversee state-owned ports, the governor’s office said. Miller will coordinate with all Mississippi military installations on behalf of MDA, monitor all Base Realignment and Closure activity and work with the Mississippi Military Communities Council. He will also coordinate all university and federal research center relations on behalf of MDA, serve as liaison to the Delta Regional Authority and Appalachian Regional Commission, oversee statewide benchmarks and project performance initiatives, in addition to other administrative and strategic initiatives as assigned.

“I look forward to joining Director Glenn McCullough and his team at the Mississippi Development Authority,” Miller said. “I share the passion Glenn and Gov.Bryant have for Mississippi and hope to build on the agency’s success. It has been an absolute privilege to lead the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and its employees for nearly five years. I leave knowing the positive initiatives we implemented will continue to benefit the agency in the future. My role at MDA gives me an even greater opportunity to promote the entire state as a premier business and tourism destination.”

Before joining DMR, Spraggins was commander of the Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport and chief of staff of the Joint Force Headquarters in the Tennessee National Guard. Spraggins served as director of emergency management, homeland security and on the E-911 Commission for Harrison County after Katrina. He is also on the Gulfport-Biloxi Airport Authority Board.

Miller will officially join MDA on Dec. 20. Spraggins will assume leadership of DMR the same day.

Paul Hampton: 228-284-7296, @JPaulHampton