CEO 89-62 -- November 30, 1989
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
DHRS DETENTION CARE WORKER SUPERVISOR WORKING AS
DIRECT SERVICE WORKER IN PRIVATE YOUTH RESIDENTIAL
PROGRAM FUNDED IN PART THROUGH DHRS GRANT
To: Ms. Ida Burns, Detention Care Worker Supervisor, District V, Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (St. Petersburg)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a detention care worker supervisor with a district of the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services also to be employed as a direct services worker with a residential youth program funded in part by a grant from the Department. The supervisor is not involved in licensure or registration of the private facility and is not involved in any way with the contract between the facility and the Department. Also, she is not in a position to make or influence referrals of clients to her private employer. CEO 84-99 and CEO 88-28 are referenced.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, a detention care worker supervisor with a district of the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, also to be employed as a direct services worker with a residential program funded in part by your Department?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry and in telephone conversations with our staff, you advise that you are employed as a Detention Care Worker Supervisor with District V of the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS). In this position, your duties include supervision of other workers in the detention center, assistance to the superintendent, and other duties related to the operation of the center. You also seek to be employed by a private residential facility for delinquent youth as a direct services worker. In that position, you would provide care and supervision to clients in the program, conduct intake interviews, and perform other duties related to operation of the residential facility. You advise that the private facility is funded in part through a grant from HRS and has accepted some clients referred from HRS upon closure of their HRS cases. Neither you nor any of the workers you supervise for HRS have any involvement in referring clients to the private facility, and you have no involvement with the grant which the facility receives from HRS.
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.
This provision prohibits you from having any employment with a business entity which is doing business with your agency. As you are employed by District V of the Department, we find that District to be your "agency" for purposes of the Code of Ethics. See CEO 82-37 and CEO 81-2. Therefore, it appears that you would be prohibited from working for an organization which is contracting with the District.
However, under some circumstances, this employment may be permitted where it would not interfere with the full and faithful discharge of an employee's duties to his agency. In CEO 84-99, we advised that a regional detention center supervisor for HRS could work as a part-time counselor with an alcohol and drug treatment program contracting with the Department. In that case, his public duties did not concern the private program or its contract, and he was not in a position to make referrals to the private program. See also CEO 88-28, where an HRS protective services counselor was permitted to work for a private program contracting with HRS because she had no role in the contract and could not make or influence referrals to her private employer. In CEO 83-92, we advised that outside employment by a State employee with a private entity doing business with his agency was permissible where the employee's responsibilities had no involvement with the private entity. In doing so, we applied Section 112.316, Florida Statutes, which provides:
It is not the intent of this part, nor shall it be construed, to prevent any officer or employee of a state agency, or county, city or other political subdivision of the state or any legislator or legislative employee from accepting other employment or following any pursuit which does not interfere with the full and faithful discharge by such officer, employee, legislator, or legislative employee of his duties to the state or the county city, or other political subdivision of the state involved.
You advise that you have no responsibility or involvement with the contract with the organization and you have no authority to make or influence referrals to the private residential program. Based on the rationale of these opinions, the employment you describe would not constitute a violation of the Code of Ethics.
Accordingly, no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you, a detention care worker supervisor with the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, to be employed by a private residential facility for delinquent youth as a direct services worker, where you have no involvement in the contracting process between the private facility and the Department and you are not in a position to make or influence referrals of clients to your private employer.