Auditor to look at agency's hiring practices in wake of Proffitt dismissal

Hospital administrator
David Proffitt resigned as head of the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter last week after an investigation into what has been characterized as his abrasive management style.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

The Office of the Legislative Auditor has launched a review of the hiring policies of the Minnesota Department of Human Services after an MPR News report found lapses in the hiring of David Proffitt to head the state's largest facility for the mentally ill and dangerous.

The MPR News report found the department hired Proffitt to run the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter, Minn., without conducting a thorough investigation of his troubled past. The agency's search failed to turn up an arrest for domestic violence and a string of problems at Proffitt's previous employer.

Proffitt was asked to resign from the Minnesota Security Hospital on March 27 after a separate investigation found problems with his leadership style.

"This was a very high level, very important, very sensitive appointment and position to fill," said Jim Nobles, the legislative auditor. "And what has been revealed through the story that is on the Minnesota Public Radio website with the documents that have been uncovered, I think really heightens the concern and very much makes it a part of the agenda that we will pursue."

Nobles and his staff will interview DHS officials, front-line staff and clients, and review documents stretching back several years as part of a broader evaluation of all State Operated Services that had been planned for this year.

The office has not yet decided what other items will be evaluated as part of the review. Nobles said he expects a final report to be completed by February 2013.

DHS Deputy Commissioner Anne Barry says the agency welcomes the review and looks forward to the office's recommendations.

Hospital at Risk:
Danger and Dysfunction at the Minnesota Security Hospital
State facility for the mentally ill risks losing license over turmoil
―Published: Feb. 28, 2012
Data: Violence, restraints common at Minnesota Security Hospital
―Published: Feb. 28, 2012
David Proffitt, head of Minnesota Security Hospital, resigns at state's request
―Published: March 27, 2012
Former Minn. Security Hospital leader's 'extremely assertive' style rankled some
―Published: March 28, 2012
State failed to review troubled past of ousted Minn. Security Hospital administrator
―Published: March 30, 2012
Auditor to look at agency's hiring practices in wake of Proffitt dismissal
―Published: April 2, 2012
Former Security Hospital head still getting paid
―Published: April 12, 2012
After complaints, MN Security Hospital inspected
―Published: April 13, 2012
Plan gives DHS more oversight in state mental health services
―Published: April 20, 2012
Funding for St. Peter hospital renovations in doubt
―Published: April 27, 2012
Security hospital worker 'emotionally abused' patient
―Published: May 1, 2012
Security Hospital in line for fraction of funding request
―Published: May 4, 2012
State investigating Security Hospital's handling of missing patient, stabbing
―Published: May 9, 2012
Investigation shows complexity of caring for the state's most violent and mentally ill adults
―Published: June 8, 2012
DHS confirms resignation of executive
―Published: Aug. 23, 2012
More injured employees, fewer doctors at Minnesota Security Hospital
―Published: Aug. 29, 2012
Minn. moves mentally ill patients to avoid legal action
―Published: Dec. 14, 2012