Acting Human Services Commissioner Pam Wheelock has named law enforcement executive Bob Jacobson as the interim manager of the agency's troubled Office of Inspector General.
Jacobson replaces Carolyn Ham, who remains on leave from her job as inspector general during an investigation of her work. A legislative audit in March found widespread fraud in a DHS child care assistance program and mismanagement in the Office of Inspector General.
Ham, who had been on paid leave, has been transferred to the DHS general counsel's office.
The Office of Inspector General investigates fraud, licenses programs such as family child care, adult foster care and mental health centers, and conducts background checks of people who work in those facilities.
Republican lawmakers highlighted the child care fraud allegations during the 2018 election campaign and during the recent legislative session. They also have decried what they say has been a slow-moving, ineffective investigation into Ham's alleged management failures.
But some Republicans welcomed the hire.
Jacobson "brings authority and expertise to the [office], and I am grateful that he has agreed to serve," said Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River.
The Ham investigation is just one piece of ongoing management tumult at DHS, which lost its commissioner Tony Lourey and his chief of staff earlier in July.
Wheelock, who was appointed acting commissioner by Gov. Tim Walz, is expected to stay only until the governor finds a replacement.
Jacobson "understands the role the Office of Inspector General plays in making sure care in licensed programs is safe and that allegations of fraud by providers or recipients are promptly addressed," Wheelock said.
Jacobson, a graduate of Bethel University in Arden Hills, is the former director of professional development for the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association and director of Public Safety for the city of New Brighton. He served as a board member for the nonprofit Northeast Youth and Family Services and on the joint powers board for the Suburban Ramsey Family Collaborative, according to DHS.
J. Patrick Coolican • 651-925-5042