CEO 88-62 -- September 8, 1988
APPLICABILITY OF DISCLOSURE LAW TO
CITY OFFICIALS WITH PURCHASING POWERS
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
A city finance director and any other city employee designated to approve purchase orders exceeding $1,000 must file financial disclosure pursuant to Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes. Although here the official who signs the requisition may not also sign the purchase order, the finance director or a designee must approve the requisition and the purchase order. The test the Commission has used in determining whether a person is a purchasing agent is whether he has the authority to commit the expenditure of public funds. The finance director or designee who signs the purchase order, therefore, is considered to be a purchasing agent.
Are you, the Finance Director of the City of Key West, or your designee subject to the requirement of filing a statement of financial interests under Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes, where either you or a designee is required to approve a purchase order for purchases of up to $5,000?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
In your letter of inquiry you have advised that you serve as the Finance Director of the City of Key West. You question whether any city officials are required to file financial disclosure under the "purchasing agent" category of Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes.
You have provided a copy of the City's purchasing procedures. These require the requesting department to complete a purchase requisition and forward it to the purchasing clerk, who verifies information, makes the final determination of the vendor to be utilized, and obtains the approval of the requisition by you or your designee.
A purchase order then is prepared by the clerk, who obtains the approval of the purchase order by you or your designee. The City's procedure requires a counter-signature; in other words, the official signing the requisition may not sign the purchase order regarding the same procurement. The City Commission must approve purchases of over $5,000; purchases of over $7,500, with exceptions, require bid procedures to be followed. You or your designee can approve emergency purchases, also.
Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes, requires "local officers" to file a statement of financial interests annually. "Local officer" is defined in relevant part as:
Any person holding one or more of the following positions: mayor; county or city manager; chief administrative employee of a county, municipality, or other political subdivision; county or municipal attorney; chief county or municipal building inspector; county or municipal water resources coordinator; county or municipal pollution control director; county or municipal environmental control director; county of municipal administrator, with power to grant or deny a land development permit; chief of police; fire chief; municipal clerk; district school superintendent; community college president; or purchasing agent having the authority to make any purchase exceeding $1,000 for any political subdivision of the state or any entity thereof. [Section 112.3145(1)(a)3, Florida Statutes (1987).]
A "purchasing agent" is defined by the Code of Ethics as:
[A] public officer or employee having the authority to commit the expenditure of public funds through a contract for, or the purchase of, any goods, services or interest in real property for an agency, as opposed to the authority to request or requisition a contract or purchase by another person. [Section 112.312(16), Florida Statutes (1987).]
We consistently have advised that the power to sign a purchase order is indicative of the authority to commit a public agency to the expenditure of funds. See CEO 78-5, CEO 81-53, and CEO 88-35. The fact that the purchasing process requires different signatures at the requisition and purchase order levels has no effect on our decision. An individual who acts as signatory of the purchase order is a "purchasing agent" for purposes of financial disclosure, regardless of whether he may sign only the purchase order for one purchase and only the requisition for another purchase.
Accordingly, we find that as Finance Director you and any of your designees who are authorized to sign purchase orders are subject to the requirement of filing statements of financial interests under Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes.