City of San Antonio, Texas


Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 2008-05

July 17, 2008

Issued By: City Attorney’s Office


I.  Issues: 


May a city employee about to retire arrange to contract with the city to continue providing his services as a consultant after leaving city employment?



II. Inquiry


A supervisor has advised that one of his employees is planning to retire from city service.  The department is interested in possibly retaining him as a consultant after he leaves city employment and has inquired whether this is permissible under the city’s Ethics Code.



III.  The Ethics Code

A. Ethics Code Standard of Conduct for Former City Officials and Employees

The City’s Ethics Code lists the standards of conduct to which a former city official or employee must abide.  Those standards of conduct concern:


(1) continuing confidentiality; 


(2) subsequent representation of private interests before the city; 


(3) prior participation in negotiating or awarding contracts; and


(4) prohibited interests in discretionary contracts with the city. 

The provision governing prior participation in negotiating or awarding contracts governs this inquiry. 

b.  Former City Employees Cannot Work on Contracts in which the Employee was Involved as a City Employee for Two Years after Leaving City Service

Ethics Code Section 2-57 (Prior Participation in the Negotiation, Award or Administration of Contracts) states in relevant part:

A former city official or employee shall not, within two (2) years of the termination of official duties for the city, perform work on a compensated basis relating to a discretionary city contract, if he or she personally and substantially participated in the negotiation, award or administration of the contract.

Under this provision, the employee could not negotiate and arrange for a consulting services contract while still serving as a city employee, since his efforts would necessarily constitute personal and substantial participation in the negotiation, award or administration of a discretionary contract.  However, once the employee has terminated city service, the Ethics Code would not prohibit him from seeking and accepting a contract with the city to provide consultant services to the city.  

The Ethics Code would prohibit a city employee from representing a private interest for compensation before the city for two years after leaving city employee.  However, this section is not applicable in this inquiry, since the former employee would be representing himself in his efforts to secure a contract for consulting services, and not representing the private interests of another.  Ethics Code Section 2-5(b) (Subsequent Representation of Private Interests) states in relevant part:

 (b)  Representation of Private Interests Before the City by Former City Officials and Employees. A former city official or employee shall not represent for compensation any person, private 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.  .  .  . For purposes of this subsection, the term compensation means money or any other thing of value that is received, or is to be received, in return for or in connection with such representation.  

Accordingly, the employee in this inquiry, therefore, may seek a contract with the city, but only after his service with this city has been terminated.[1]

IV. Conclusion

The revolving door rules for former city employees would prohibit participation in a contract in which the employee was personally and substantially involved in its negotiation, award or administration.   This prohibition would preclude an employee who has not yet left city service from arranging to receive a consultant contract with the city after city service has terminated.   Once the employee has left city employment, though, the Ethics Code would not prohibit him from seeking a contract with the city to provide professional services as a consultant.

[1]   Management-level employees subject to the financial disclosure requirements under Section 2-73 of the Ethics Code are also subject to an additional revolving door rule under Section 2-58 regarding prohibited contracts with the city.  Such employees should familiarize themselves with Section 2-58 and consult the Office of the City Attorney before leaving city employment if they anticipate possibly seeking contracts or business relationships with the city after leaving city service.