The following headlines and news article excerpts demonstrate the fallout when government agencies hire senior-level employees without conducting thorough due diligence.
Great Park CEO Had History of Embezzling, Cocaine Use
“The executive who was asked to head one of the largest and costliest public works projects in the nation abruptly departed earlier this year.
… (The) longtime city employee appointed to shepherd the billion-dollar Great Park had a troubled past: He pleaded guilty in 1989 to embezzling public funds in San Juan Capistrano to feed a cocaine habit.
… Bryant’s hiring and sudden departure, and the lack of steady leadership in general, have caused some to question the city’s grip on the project…
… ‘I think it’s sloppy talent management not to have an understanding of who’s working in your organization,’ Matus (a managing partner for Egon Zehnder International, the country’s largest privately held executive search agency) said. ‘And with a city, the public are your shareholders, so it’s even more important to know about someone’s past.'”
Los Angeles Times, November 7, 2007
State Missed Details of Minnesota Security Hospital Ex-Leader’s Troubled Past
“Officials with the state Department of Human Services did not thoroughly screen (the) head of Minnesota’s largest hospital for the mentally ill and dangerous last August and, as a result, missed details about a seemingly troubled past.
Proffitt was forced to resign as administrator of the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter this week amid complaints over his management style.
…Last April, Proffitt resigned as head of Acadia Hospital… where he had received negative media attention.
…Department of Human Services officials also (missed) a 1992 arrest on suspicion of assaulting his wife
…(They) also chose not to investigate claims that Proffitt received a Ph.D. in health management or that he specialized in ‘therapeutic recreation’ at the University of Nebraska and Arizona State University. Neither school offered that specialty when Proffitt attended. And his claim of a doctorate degree can’t be verified because it came from an unaccredited online school, Warren National University, which was shut down by Wyoming three years ago.”
Associated Press, March 30, 2012
Visitors Bureau in Turmoil After Hiring-Procedure Blunder
“The Statesville Convention and Visitors Bureau faces possible legal action and another search for an executive director after rescinding its employment offer to a man who had a previous felony conviction.
On Tuesday morning, the agency’s board of directors approved the appointment of … its next executive director, capping a four-month search…
But a… search performed by the (local news)…revealed that (the new Executive director) pled guilty to a felony charge for stealing $15,000 from the Hagerstown-Washington County (Md.) Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2004 and spent 3 ½ months in prison.
…Less than 90 minutes (after being questioned about the new leader’s past), the board rescinded its job offer.”
Statesville Record & Landmark, September 22, 2011
The Issue: Hiring Key County Personnel Without Vetting Their Backgrounds
Our Opinion: A Recipe For Disaster
“Once again, Hernando County government is made to look foolish because officials didn’t follow their own sound hiring practices — ones that any legitimate business follows when making key hiring decisions.
We’re talking about the hiring and subsequent blink-of-an-eye firing of Hernando Beach dredge project supervisor … after a Hernando Today news story detailed the contractor’s criminal history.
…(The contractor is) a convicted arsonist who pleaded guilty to the felony charge in 1996 in Suffolk County, N.Y. (He) and another person set fire to an auto parts store on Long Island. He served three months in jail and five years of probation.
However, when county commissioners hired him last week at $152,500 to supervise the ill-fated Hernando Beach dredge project, they had no idea who they were really hiring.
…(He) should never have been hired.”
Hernando Today, April 16, 2011
Virginia Governor’s Chef Didn’t Get Criminal Background Check When Hired
“Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s administration acknowledged Tuesday that it did not know the chef at the Executive Mansion had been convicted of embezzlement when he was hired to work for the governor and his family two years ago.
McDonnell’s staff failed to conduct the required criminal background check on Todd Schneider, who recently left his job amid a police investigation after a tip about possible wrongdoing at the mansion.
Officials learned of Schneider’s conviction and his hundreds of thousands of dollars of debts from an article in The Washington Post on Sunday.”
Washington Post, March 27, 2012
Commissioners Hope to Change Policies
“Following the mess that was made with the hiring of a new executive director for the Community Action Agency, the county is now looking to change their policies regarding pre-employment background checks.
(One of the Commissioners said), ‘Had we known that the person we were looking at had this record, he never would have been part of the interview process.’
‘I think this could have been handled a little better probably internally, but it’s more an issue of (how) the process works and we need to fine tune it so it can be even better.'”
Pro 8 News, February 15, 2011
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