CEO 79-71 -- November 16, 1979
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
EMPLOYEE OF CITY ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCY PRIVATELY PROVIDING SERVICES FOR PLANTS REGULATED BY AGENCY
To: Roger M. Baskin, Chemist, Division of Bio-Environmental Services, Jacksonville
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees prohibits a public employee from being employed by or having a contractual relationship with a business entity which is subject to the regulation of his agency. Section 112.313(7)(a), F. S. Therefore, a prohibited conflict of interest would be created were an employee of a city environmental agency to privately provide testing services for sewage plants regulated by that agency.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were I, an employee of a city environmental agency, to privately provide testing services for sewage plants regulated by my agency?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are currently employed as a chemist by the Bio-Environmental Services Division of the City of Jacksonville. You also advise that that division is the regulatory agency for sewage treatment plants located within Duval County.
You further advise that you contemplate starting a business which would engage in the analysis of samples from sewage treatment plants, at the request of owners of those plants, in compliance with rules of the state's Department of Environmental Regulation. The services you would be providing privately, you advise, would be the same as those which you now perform for the city, although they would be done with your privately owned equipment in separate facilities during your off-duty hours.
Finally, you advise that the clients which you anticipate serving would be the same persons whose sewage plants you test for compliance with permit regulations during your regular working hours with the city.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
CONFLICTING EMPLOYMENT OR CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP. -- No public officer or employee of an agency shall have or hold any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, an agency of which he is an officer or employee . . . nor shall an officer or employee of an agency have or hold any employment or contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his private interests and the performance of his public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. [Section 112.313(7)(a), F. S.]
This provision prohibits a public employee from being employed by, or having a contractual relationship with, a business entity which is subject to the regulation of his agency. Clearly, the situation which you contemplate would involve such a relationship with the owner of a sewage plant who would be regulated by your public agency. The same problem would not arise, however, if you were to contract with clients who are not regulated by the Bio-Environmental Services Division.
Accordingly, we find that a prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you, an employee of a city environmental agency, to privately provide testing services for sewage plants regulated by your public agency.