Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 24
June 4, 1999
Issued By: City Attorney’s Office
Whether an employee who terminates his position with the City may accept employment with a company with which the City contracts to provide housekeeping and conversion services.
The Alamodome Department has asked whether an employee who terminates employment with the City may accept employment with a company with which the City contracts to provide housekeeping and conversion services. The following facts are presented:
An employee in the Alamodome Department is considering terminating employment with the City. In his position as the Operations Division’s Building Maintenance Supervisor, he oversees the Alamodome’s housekeeping and conversion services. He has received an offer of employment with UNICCO, the company that provides these services to the Alamodome. Although he was not a member of the selection committee that awarded the contract to UNICCO, he was an observer to the process.
The issue is whether the employee may accept employment with UNICCO upon termination of his position with the City. The Ethics Code defines a former City employee as "a person whose duties terminate on or after the effective date of this code." Should the City employee terminate his position with the City, the date of termination falls after the effective date of the Code, January 1, 1999. Therefore, he is subject to the standards of conduct as provided therein.
Continuing confidentiality. As a general rule, a former City employee may not disclose "confidential government information acquired during service as a city . . . employee." A City employee, however, is not prohibited from disclosing issues that are no longer confidential by law or that report illegal or unethical conduct to the proper authorities. Therefore, should the employee terminate his employment with the City, he must refrain from disclosing confidential information received in his position as the Operations Division’s Building Maintenance Supervisor. This includes any information received as a result of his involvement with the selection committee that awarded the contract to provide housekeeping and supplemental conversion services. Failure to abide by this standard of conduct subjects the former City employee to the penalties as stated in the Code.
Subsequent representation. Part C, Section 2(b) of the Code prohibits a former City employee from representing for compensation anyone other than himself, his spouse or minor children before the City Council, a City board or commission or a City official or employee for two (2) years after termination of his employment with the City. It further prohibits a former City employee from implying that he is able to influence City action as a result of his former position.
Under the facts presented, the employee could not represent UNICCO for compensation before the Alamodome Department, including any contract selection committee, or before the City Council for two (2) years from the date of his termination with the City. If a Request for Proposal for housekeeping and conversion services is released within that two (2) year period, the former City employee would neither be permitted to participate in the proposal process nor infer that he is able to influence the City’s action as a result of his previous position. In other words, the former employee can work for UNICCO, but may not participate with any city contract for two years.
Financial interest in Discretionary Contract or Sale. Part C, Section 3 of the Code prohibits former City employees from having a financial interest in a contract with the City or its agencies, including SAWS. Under this section, a former City employee is defined as "any person who, prior to termination of employee status, was required to file a financial disclosure statement." This includes those individuals who are City officials and who are in executive pay plan status. Because the Operations Division’s Maintenance Building Supervisor is not required to file such statement, this section does not apply.
An employee with the City’s Alamodome Department may terminate his employment with the City. Upon termination of employment, he is subject to the standards of conduct regarding: (1) continuing confidentiality; (2) subsequent representation; and (3) interests in discretionary contracts. Because his position with the City requires the employee to oversee the very services for which he would administer for the City’s contracting party, UNICCO, such administration would be a violation of the Ethics Code. Therefore, if the employee accepts employment with UNICCO, he must neither represent UNICCO before the City’s Alamodome Department or the City Council for a period of two (2) years.
FRANK J. GARZA