Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 109
August 31, 2006
Issued By: City Attorney’s Office
Does the Ethics Code prohibit a former city employee from being hired by the city on a contract basis after he leaves city service?
An employee has advised his supervisors that he is considering retirement. Several managerial staff members have expressed an interest in hiring this individual on a contract basis after he leaves city service. The employee inquires whether the Ethics Code would prohibit him from accepting contractual employment with the city after he retires.
III. The Ethics Code – “Revolving Door” Rules
There are several ethics code provisions that apply to former employees and their interaction with the city after they have left city service. These provisions are sometimes referred to as the “revolving door” rules, and they are discussed below.
Section 2-56 (Subsequent Representation of Private Interests) states:
A former city official or employee shall not represent for compensation any person, group, or private entity, other than himself or herself, or his or her spouse or minor children, before the city for a period of two (2) years after termination of his or her official duties.
This section would not prohibit the employee from entering into a contract for professional services with the city after he has left city employment. In becoming a city contractor, the employee would be working as an agent of the city, rather than on behalf of a private outside client.
Section 2-57 (Prior Participation in the Negotiation, Award or Administration of Contracts) states:
A former city official or employee may not, within two (2) years of the termination of official duties for the City, perform work on a compensated basis relating to a discretionary contract, if he or she personally and substantially participated in the negotiation, award, or administration of the contract.
This section would, while the employee is still working for the city, prohibit him from negotiating a post-termination contract. Once he leaves city service, he could negotiate such a contract with the city. Also, if the contract work might relate to a city contract in which the employee was involved in its negotiation, award or administration, he would be prohibited from engaging in any work related to that contract on behalf of a private sector employer for two years after leaving city service.
Section 2-58 (Prohibited Interests in Discretionary Contracts) states:
Within one (1) year of the termination of official duties, a former city officer or employee shall neither have a financial interest, direct or indirect, in any discretionary contract with the City, nor have a financial interest, direct or indirect, in the sale to the City of any land, materials, supplies, or service.
This provision applies only to former employees who had been required to fill out the annual financial disclosure form under Section 2-73 of the Ethics Code. Because this employee is not within the class of employees required to file annual disclosure forms under Section 2-73, this provision does not apply. Ethics Code, Section 2-58(c)(1).
Even for those employees who are required to file financial disclosure forms, this provision does not apply to contracts for professional services. As long as the contract is for professional services, this provision would not prohibit that former employee from contracting with the city. Ethics Code, Section 2-58(c)(3).
The former employee may be hired on a contract basis to work for the city after leaving city service, but must wait until leaving city service to negotiate such contracts.