Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 122
August 31, 2007
Issued By: City Attorney’s Office
May an employee accept contract employment with the city after retiring from city service?
A city employee is planning on retiring soon from city service. He has inquired whether he may seek or accept contract employment with the city after leaving city service as an employee.
III. The Ethics Code and Discussion of its Application
Division 3 of the city’s Ethics Code contains four provisions governing conduct of former city officials and employees in their interactions with the city. These provisions are discussed below:
A. Section 2-56: Subsequent Representation of Private Interests
Section 2-56 of the Ethics Code 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.
The employee in this matter has inquired whether he could accept contract employment with the city after he has left city service. Section 2-56 would not prohibit this arrangement since the former employee would be retained to work on behalf of the city, rather than representing the interests of an outside client.
B. Section 2-57: Prior Participation in the Negotiation, Award or Administration of Contracts
Section 2-57 of the Ethics Code 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.
Section 2-57 would prohibit the employee from accepting employment in the private sector which involved work related to any city contract in which the participated as a city employee. This prohibition would apply for two years after leaving city service.
This section would also, while the employee is still working for the city, prohibit him from negotiating contract that would be carried out after he had left city service. However, once the employee leaves city service, he could contact city personnel and negotiate a contract with the city to provide services to the city.
C. Section 2-58: Prohibited Interests in Discretionary Contracts
Section 2-58 of the Ethics Code 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. Even for those employees, this provision does not apply to contracts for professional services. Because the employee in this inquiry has not been in a category of employees who are required to submit financial disclosure reports under Section 2-73, Section 2-58 is not applicable to his inquiry.
D. Section 2-55: Continuing Confidentiality
Section 2-55 of the Ethics Code states:
A former city official or employee shall not use or disclose confidential government information acquired during service as a city official or employee. This rule does not prohibit:
(a) any disclosure that is no longer confidential by law; or
(b) the confidential reporting of illegal or unethical conduct to authorities designated by law.
Under this provision, the former employee must keep confidential any information learned while serving the city. Further, such information cannot be used in any way to further the private interests of the employee or any private sector employer of the employee.
The employee may not represent the private interests of any person, group or entity for compensation for a period of two years after leaving city employment. He may seek to be individually retained by contract to provide services to the city after he has left city service. Such a contract, though, cannot be negotiated until he has terminated his employment with city.