CEO 81-35 -- June 18, 1981
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ENGINEER PRIVATELY WORKING FOR ENGINEERING FIRM
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were an engineer employed by a city department of transportation to provide engineering services to an engineering firm which is not engaged in any projects within the city. Reference is made to CEO's 76-113, 77-81, and 81-20. Since the engineering firm with which the subject engineer wishes to be employed is not engaged in any work within the city and therefore does not fall within the regulation of the department of transportation, Section 112.313(7)(a), F. S., would not prohibit such employment.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were an engineer employed by a city department of transportation to provide engineering services to an engineering firm which is not engaged in any projects within the city?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that .... is a registered professional engineer employed on the staff of the Department of Transportation of the City of Gainesville. In that position, you advise, he reviews and signs off on all site and subdivision plans for compliance with the City Code, primarily in the area of drainage. In the course of his regular duties, he works closely with private engineers, architects, developers and other individuals during the plan review process.
We have been advised by the Assistant City Attorney that the subject employee would like to provide engineering services, primarily in the form of drafting, to one engineering firm which will not be engaged in any projects concerning development within City limits. He further advised that the employee has indicated that in the event the firm works on projects within City limits in the future, he would terminate his relationship with the firm.
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), F. S. (1979).]
In a previous opinion, CEO 76-113, we advised that this provision would prohibit an engineer employed by a city from working part-time for a local engineering firm which prepared plats, plans for private buildings, subdivision plans, and other private development plans which required review and approval by the engineer's agency. In CEO 77-81, we advised that Section 112.313(7)(a) would not prohibit the director of a city engineering department from performing consulting work on projects located outside the city, or on projects located within the city which would not be reviewed or approved by the engineering department, although he would be prohibited from working on a project located within the city which would be subject to the approval of the engineering department. In that opinion, we did not address the question of whether the director could consult with individuals or business entities engaged in projects other than the one he would be working on within the city which would be regulated by his agency. This question has been addressed more recently in CEO 81-20 in which we advised that a city building official may not contract with a general contractor who is doing work within the city at the time of the contract, which work would subject the contractor to the regulation of the building official.
In the situation you have described, the engineering firm with which the subject engineer wishes to be employed is not engaged in any work within the City and therefore does not fall within the regulation of the Department of Transportation. Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were the subject engineer to provide engineering services to a firm which is not engaged in any projects within the City.