CEO 75-172 -- August 26, 1975
MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES MAKING SMALL PURCHASES TO MEET UNANTICIPATED NEEDS
To: George L. Harman, Chief Purchasing Officer, Jacksonville
Prepared by: Gene Rhodes
Where small-purchase regulations of a municipality require the use of a field order bearing the authorization signature of the chief purchasing officer, employees utilizing such field orders to meet emergency needs are not deemed to be exercising purchasing agent authority and thus are not considered to be public officers pursuant to s. 112.312(7)(j), F. S. (1974 Supp.). Rather, the purchasing officer whose signature appears on the field order is responsible for insuring that the Code of Ethics provisions relating to purchasing are adhered to. Particular attention is called to s. 112.313(2), F. S. (1974 Supp.), and, after October 1, to the amended provision, s. 112.312(3), F. S., as created by Ch. 75-208, Laws of Florida, dealing with transacting business with one's agency.
Are employees of the City of Jacksonville who make small purchases ($50 maximum) to meet unanticipated needs subject to the disclosure provisions of the Code of Ethics notwithstanding my prior authorization?
Your question is answered in the negative.
The current Code of Ethics requires that public officers file annually a statement of financial disclosure, s. 112.3145(1), F. S. (1974 Supp.). The term "public officer" is defined to include "[p]urchasing agents for any agency and persons having the power normally conferred to purchasing agents by whatever title." Section 112.312(7)(j), F. S.
The small-purchase regulations of the City of Jacksonville which apply to purchases of not more than $50 require the use of a field order upon which your signature has been placed. P.B. No. 13 (Rev. 5) approved by the Mayor of the City of Jacksonville on July 2, 1975. This procedure places the authority for the use of the field order with you as Chief Purchasing Officer. Under these circumstances we do not believe that the employees who use the field order are purchasing agents and hence "public officers" within the meaning of s. 112.312. Accordingly, they are not required to file statements of financial disclosure. As public employees, however, they must complete a statement of specified interests (see CE Form 3 enclosed) if they hold such an interest. Section 112.313(3), F. S. (1974 Supp.).
It is incumbent upon you, under the field order procedure utilized in your city, to insure that the Code of Ethics provisions relating to purchasing are adhered to.
The current Code of Ethics states, in pertinent part:
Conflicts Prohibited. -- No public officer or employee of an agency shall own a material interest in any business entity doing business with the agency of which he is an officer or employee, except in those cases when the business is contracted with full public competition and award is made to the lowest or best bidder or to a consultant in accordance with Chapter 287.055, Florida Statutes. [Section 112.313(2), F. S. (1974 Supp.).]
The bidding requirements contained in the above section will no longer apply beginning October 1, 1975, when a revised Code of Ethics takes effect. The counterpart of the foregoing provision in the new law provides:
DOING BUSINESS WITH ONE'S AGENCY. -- No employee of an agency acting in his official capacity as a purchasing agent or public officer acting in his official capacity shall either directly or indirectly for his own agency purchase, rent, or lease any realty, goods, or services from any business entity of which he, his spouse, or child is an officer, partner, director, or proprietor, or in which such officer or employee, his spouse or child, or any combination of them, has a material interest. Nor shall a public officer or employee, acting in a private capacity, rent, lease, or sell any realty, goods, or services to his own agency if he is a state officer or employee, or, if he is serving as an officer or employee of any political subdivision, to that subdivision or to any agency thereof. The foregoing shall not apply to district offices maintained by legislators when such offices are located in the legislator's place of business. This subsection shall not affect nor be construed to prohibit contracts entered into prior to:
(a) The effective date of this act;
(b) Qualifications for elective office;
(c) Appointment to public office;
(d) Beginning public employment. [Section 112.313(3), Ch. 75-208, Laws of Florida.]
We cite these provisions to alert you to the requirements of the new law of which you, as the Chief Purchasing Officer, must be primarily aware.
The revised financial disclosure law which will take effect on January 1, 1976, does not require local purchasing agents to file disclosure statements if their purchasing authority does not exceed $100. Section 112.3145(1)(a)3., Ch. 75-196, Laws of Florida.