CEO 88-74 -- October 19, 1988
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY POLICE OFFICER EMPLOYED BY
COMPUTER FIRM DOING BUSINESS WITH CITY
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, would not be violated were a city police officer to be employed by a computer company which is doing business with the city; where, as here, the company is the sole source of supply the transaction would be exempted by Section 112.313(12)(e), Florida Statutes. Also, the police officer's duties with the computer company would not present him with a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were a city police officer to be employed by a computer company which is doing business with the city?
Under the circumstances presented, your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that .... is a police officer who has been employed by the City of Orlando Police Department (OPD) for approximately 19 1/2 years. He currently works with the OPD Data Processing Section as a Management Information Systems Specialist where he monitors the activities of City civilian data processing personnel to ensure optimum benefits to his agency.
A computer company currently is under contract with the City to provide a police management information software package to the OPD. Initially, the computer company submitted a proposal to develop and provide this program to the OPD. The proposal was reviewed by several individuals within the OPD, including the subject police officer, who analyzed and evaluated the proposal. Based upon OPD recommendation, the City decided to contract with the computer company. The subject police officer acted in an advisory capacity to the OPD during the developmental stage of this project. During this process, he also reviewed the software for the agency to determine the serviceability of each new version.
You further advise that the subject police officer has been offered full time employment with the computer company. In this position, he would be responsible for training users of the company's software throughout the United States. He will soon be eligible for early retirement under the City's police pension program. He has applied to use his accrued leave time for the next six months in order to begin employment with the computer company immediately. If this request is granted, he would remain on the City payroll and receive his regular salary and benefits but would play no role in the operation of the OPD.
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 (1987).]
This provision prohibits a public officer or employee from having any employment or contractual relationship with a business entity which is doing business with his agency.
However, the Code of Ethics contains several exceptions to this prohibition, including an exemption where:
The business entity involved is the only source of supply within the political subdivision of the officer or employee and there is full disclosure by the officer or employee of his interest in the business entity to the governing body of the political subdivision prior to the purchase, rental, sale, leasing, or other business being transacted. [Section 112.313(12)(e), Florida Statutes (1987).]
You have advised that as the software package was the only software available which was compatible with the City's computer hardware, the contract was not competitively bid and a "sole source" purchase was approved by the City Council. Thus, it would appear that the "sole source" exemption would apply. The disclosure requirement of this exemption may be met by completing Part B on CE Form 4A, "Disclosure of Business Transaction, Relationship, or Interest," and filing that form with the governing body of the City.
While the second part of Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, also prohibits an employment or contractual relationship which creates a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between a public employee's private interests and the performance of his public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties, we do not perceive such a conflict to be present in this case. First, you have advised that if the subject police officer goes on leave status, his duties and responsibilities will be transferred to data processing personnel and the OPD will completely eliminate his position. In essence, he will retain no public duties at this point. Also, his only contact with the OPD arising out of his employment with the computer firm will involve training software users upon request; he will not be involved in the sales and maintenance of any equipment or software.
Accordingly, under the circumstances presented we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were the subject police officer to be employed by a computer company which is doing business with the City.