CEO 86-64 -- September 17, 1986
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
COUNTY EMPLOYEE CONTRACTING WITH COUNTY TO PROVIDE SERVICES AS FORENSIC TECHNICIAN
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a sign fabricator in the traffic engineering division of a county public works department to contract to provide services as a forensic technician with the county's Division of Health and Social Services. As the employee is not in a position to supervise or regulate the provision of forensic technician services or to give advice or recommendations regarding contracts for those services, the rationale of CEO's 76-10, 76-157, 82-42, and 84-43 would apply. Further, the Health and Social Services Division is not regulated by or doing business with the traffic engineering division of county government.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were a sign fabricator in the traffic engineering division of a county public works department to contract to provide services as a forensic technician with the county's division of health and social services?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that .... is employed by Brevard County as a Sign Fabricator in the Traffic Engineering Division of the Department of Public Works. You also advise that he voluntarily has taken training on his own time and at his own expense to learn the procedures and duties of a forensic technician, supporting the medical examiner during autopsies.
The County Commission employs a full-time forensic technician, but it is necessary to have a replacement for that person on weekends and other times when the technician is ill or on vacation. Therefore, the Division of Health and Social Services of the County's Department of Community Services proposes to contract with this individual for his services as backup to the forensic technician.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
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 purchase, rent, or lease any realty, goods, or services for his own agency from any business entity of which he or his spouse or child is an officer, partner, director, or proprietor or in which such officer or employee or 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 to any political subdivision or any agency thereof, if he is serving as an officer or employee of that political subdivision. 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 or be construed to prohibit contracts entered into prior to:
(a) October 1, 1975.
(b) Qualification for elective office.
(c) Appointment to public office.
(d) Beginning public employment.
[Section 112.313(3), Florida Statutes (1985).]
This provision prohibits a county employee from acting in a private capacity to sell services to any agency of the county. Nevertheless, in previous opinions such as CEO 76-10, CEO 76-157, CEO 82-42, and CEO 84-43, we have interpreted another provision of the Code of Ethics, Section 112.316, Florida Statutes, to permit an employee of a political subdivision to sell services to an agency of that political subdivision, where the employee was not in a position to supervise or regulate the provision of those services or to give advice or recommendations regarding contracts for those services. Clearly this rationale would apply to an individual whose primary employment with the County involves making signs and who wishes to contract with the County on a part-time basis to provide services which are totally unrelated.
The Code of Ethics also provides:
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 (1985).]
However, we do not find that the Health and Social Services Division is subject to the regulation of or doing business with the Traffic Engineering Division of County government, within the contemplation of this prohibition. Nor is there any reason to believe that part- time employment as a forensic technician would present a continuing or frequently recurring conflict or impede the full and faithful discharge of the public duties of a sign fabricator.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were the subject employee of the Traffic Engineering Division to contract to provide services as a forensic technician on a part-time basis with the Division of Health and Social Services.