City of San Antonio Seal

City of San Antonio, Texas

Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 2010-01
February 2, 2010
Issued By: City Attorney’s Office

I.  Issue

May the city hire a former employee on an as-needed contract basis?

II. Inquiry

A city department has inquired whether it can contract with a former employee to provide professional services to the city similar to those he performed while still a city employee.  The department states that the individual had been an excellent employee and they hoped to continue to be able to have the benefit of his experience and knowledge.

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.  Accordingly, he would not be representing an outside private interest in violation of this provision.

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.  However, once he leaves city service, he and the city could negotiate such a contract. 

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 was 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).

IV. Conclusion

The city department may contract with a former employee on a contract basis to provide services similar to those he had performed while a city employee.