CEO 81-34 -- June 18, 1981
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
SURVEYOR EMPLOYED BY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION PRIVATELY PROVIDING SURVEYING SERVICES TO INDIVIDUALS, CITIES, AND COUNTIES
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Generally, no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a land surveyor employed by the Florida Department of Transportation, Division of Road Operations, Design Bureau, to engage in part-time work as a surveyor for individuals, cities, or counties, although such employment in a particular instance may be prohibited because of a relationship between an individual and the Department. Section 112.313(7)(a), F. S., would prohibit the subject employee from working for any private consulting firm whose work is reviewed by the employee. With respect to cities and counties, it does not appear that any city or county is either subject to the regulation of, or doing business with, the Design Bureau of the Department.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were a land surveyor employed by the Department of Transportation in its right-of-way engineering office to engage in part-time work as a surveyor for individuals, cities, or counties?
Your question is answered generally in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that .... and .... are employed as Registered Land Surveyors in the Right-of-Way Engineering Office of the Department of Transportation. In their work, you advise, they supervise the preparation of right-of-way maps, legal descriptions, and instruments of conveyance, and they review the work done by private consulting firms under contract to the Department.
You further advise that the Right-of-Way Engineering Office is part of the Design Bureau of the Division of Road Operations. The Division of Road Operations is responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of all roads on the State system. Within the Division, the Bureau of Design is responsible for design, preparation of right-of-way maps, utility relocation, establishment of State criteria, review of projects to assure conformance with standards, and, at the District level, preparation of the work program. The Right-of-Way Engineering Office, in turn, is responsible for all right-of-way activities that occur prior to the acquisition process. The Office prepares and reviews right-of-way maps based upon the requirements established by the Design Bureau, prepares and reviews the documents required for transfer of title, prepares maintenance maps and suit packages, and responds to the public and others regarding the right-of-way held by the Department on specific projects.
You advise that the subject employees would like to work part- time preparing field surveys, maps and plats, and legal descriptions for individuals, cities, and counties. This work would be done on a contractual basis, and no Department time or resource would be used. You advise that the only interaction between the Division, Bureau, or Office and the cities and counties with which the subject employees propose to work would be at the District level, where local government has input into the Department's work program. In addition, you advised that you are not aware of any possibility of interaction or relationship between the Division, Bureau, or Office and the individuals with whom the subject employees propose to contract.
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. (1981).]
This provision prohibits the subject employees from being employed by or having a contractual relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or doing business with, the Department's Bureau of Design. As we have not been provided with any information regarding the identity of the individuals for whom the subject employees would be working, we are unable to provide more than this general guidance, although we note that the employees would be prohibited from working for the firms who are consulting with the Department and whose work is reviewed by the subject employees.
With respect to the cities and counties for whom the employees propose to work, we note that Section 112.313(7)(a) would prohibit such employment if the city or county either is doing business with or is subject to the regulation of the Bureau of Design. Under the circumstances you have presented, it does not appear that any city or county is either subject to the regulation of, or doing business with, the Bureau of Design.
Accordingly, we find that the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees does not altogether prohibit a land surveyor employed by the Department of Transportation in its Right-of-Way Engineering Office from engaging in part-time work as a surveyor for individuals, cities, or counties. However, it is possible that such employment in a particular instance may be prohibited by the Code of Ethics because of some relationship between an individual and the Department. If such a situation arises, we suggest that another advisory opinion be sought.