CEO 84-112 -- November 29, 1984
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY PERSONNEL DIRECTOR DOING CONSULTING WORK WITH OTHER CITY EMPLOYEES
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were the personnel director of a city to work with other city employees in providing consulting services on personnel projects for local businesses or other governmental units. The city does not regulate or do business with these entities and does not have any responsibility or authority over the personnel projects which would be undertaken. Nor would the personnel director's business relationship with the other city employees impede the discharge of his public responsibilities.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, the personnel director of a city, to work with other city employees in providing consulting services on personnel projects for local businesses or other governmental units?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you serve as Personnel Director for the City of Pensacola. In that position you report to the City Manager, and you are responsible for the personnel programs of the City. You also advise that you have been contacted by a governmental unit outside the County, by a local bank, and by a building supply company for assistance in preparing wage and classification studies and an affirmative action plan.
In addition, you have advised that neither the governmental agency nor the businesses are doing business with, or are subject to the regulation of, the City. The City does not have any responsibility or authority to do the wage and classification studies or the affirmative action plan. This outside employment would not involve any information, materials, programs, or work developed by the City, but would require information available in the public domain concerning personnel matters.
Finally, you have advised that since the projects are too large for you to handle alone, you would like to use two other City employees to assist you. These individuals are the Director of Civil Service, over whom you do not have any authority or control, and the Assistant to the Director of Personnel, whose position is subordinate to yours. You contemplate that the private work would be shared equally, with each person doing one-third of the work and with no one supervising or reporting to the other individuals.
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), Florida Statutes (1983).]
The outside employment which you contemplate would not be prohibited by the first part of this provision, as the entities you would be contracting with are not doing business with or regulated by the City.
With respect to your proposed business relationship with other City employees, we have stated that we are of the opinion that generally no continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest would arise from a contractual relationship between a public employee and a subordinate employee. See CEO 82-28. In that opinion we further stated:
It is possible that where a public employee has an ongoing business relationship with a subordinate, that private business relationship and the employee's interest in keeping that relationship harmonious, productive, and profitable would impede the employee's duty of impartially evaluating the subordinate's job performance and would lead to a frequently recurring conflict between those interests.
In this situation, however, you contemplate working with your assistant on three personnel projects. In our view, this would not constitute such an ongoing business relationship as to impede your responsibilities as a supervising City employee.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to work with two other City employees in connection with personnel consulting matters for a governmental unit and two local businesses.