CEO 81-53 -- September 17, 1981
CITY PERSONNEL ADMINISTRATOR
APPLICABILITY OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
A city employee who is empowered to authorize purchases exceeding $100 in behalf of the city constitutes a "purchasing agent" under Section 112.3145(1)(a)3., Florida Statutes, and therefore is a "local officer" required to file financial disclosure annually. However, the power to make requisitions or requests for purchases, as opposed to the power to sign a purchase order, is advisory in nature, and persons with that limited authority are not purchasing agents. CEO's 75-115, 75-172, 77-73, and 78-36 are referenced.
Are you, the Personnel Administrator of a municipality who has the authority to requisition purchases, a "local officer" subject to the requirement of filing financial disclosure annually?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry and in a telephone conversation with our staff you advised that you are the Personnel Administrator of a municipality, in which capacity you are responsible for administering the budget of your office. You also advised that you, like all department heads of the City, are authorized to requisition purchases in amounts which may exceed $100. The requisition form first is sent to the City's finance office, which determines if there are sufficient funds in the budget for payment, and then is sent to the City Manager for approval. If approved, the form is sent to the City Purchasing Agent, who prepares a purchase order for the vendor. In addition, you advised, you are authorized to sign a "petty" purchase order for amounts up to $35; these purchase orders are sent directly to the vendor from your office.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides that each "local officer" shall file a statement of financial interests annually. Section 112.3145(2)(b), Florida Statutes. The term "local officer" is defined to include a number of positions in local government, but the definition does not reference personnel administrators. Section 112.3145(1)(a)3., Florida Statutes.
In contrast, the term "specified employee" used to define State employees required to file financial disclosure does include personnel officers for any State agency. Section 112.3145(1)(b)5., Florida Statutes.
However, the term "local officer" does include purchasing agents having the authority to make a purchase exceeding $100 for any political subdivision of the State or any entity thereof, regardless of the title of the position held. Section 112.3145(1)(a)3., Florida Statutes. In previous opinions, we have interpreted the term "purchasing agent" broadly to include any person who has the authority to commit a public agency to the expenditure of public funds. CEO 75-147, CEO 76-146, CEO 77-89, and CEO 78-36. Nevertheless, we have advised that the power to make requisitions or requests for purchases (as opposed to the power to sign a purchase order) is advisory in nature and that persons with that authority are not purchasing agents. CEO 75-115, CEO 75-172, CEO 77-73, and CEO 78-36.
Accordingly, as you have the authority merely to request that purchases over $100 be made and you do not have the authority to sign purchase orders exceeding $100, we find that you are not a "local officer" and therefore you are not required to file a statement of financial interests annually.