Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 2001-26

Advisory Opinion No. 2001-26
Advisory Opinion No. 2001-26

Application Of The Code’s Post-State Employment Provisions
To The Implementation Of A Previously Awarded Contract

The Business Manager of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) Juvenile Training School has asked how The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials applies to the following situation.

A retired state employee has been working on a DCF computer project under a provision that allows retirees to work up to 120 days per year without affecting their eligibility for retirement benefits. The 120 day limit for this calendar year has now been exhausted. While DCF is willing to enter into a separate personal services agreement with the retiree, such an arrangement would negatively impact her retirement benefits. As an alternative, the contractor for the project’s computer software has offered to hire the individual for the specific purpose of continuing work on the project. DCF wishes to know whether this proposal is acceptable under the relevant provisions of the Code.

As a threshold matter, a 120 day worker occupies a classified state position for that time period; and, therefore, is considered a state employee for purposes of the Code Of Ethics. See, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-79(m) and State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 98-21, 60 Conn. L.J. No. 10, p. 3C (9/9/98). As a consequence, the Code’s post-state employment provisions fully apply to the 120 day worker at the end of the temporary employment period.

Of particular significance, under Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(a), the retiree may never represent anyone, other than the State, concerning a particular matter in which she participated personally and substantially while in state service; and, under Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(b), for one year she may not represent anyone, other than the State, for compensation before her former agency, i.e., DCF.

In applying these post-state employment provisions, the Commission has focused on matters that involve the discretionary authority of the State (e.g., contract awards and contested cases). Such an application has been deemed appropriate, because it fulfills the principal legislative purpose underlying these "revolving door" provisions: prevention of use of contacts, influence, or other insider’s advantage gained during state service to obtain improper financial benefit in subsequent dealings with the State.

The Commission has ruled, however, that it is not necessary or appropriate to apply these restrictions to a former state employee performing only technical duties, such as contract implementation, which involve no matter at issue between the State, or any other party, and her private employer. See, State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 88-15, 50 Conn. L.J. No. 15, p. 3D (10/11/88) and Regulations of Conn. State Agencies 1-81-33(b). In fact, such an application would disadvantage not only the former employee, but also the interests of the State.

Applying the holding of Advisory Opinion No. 88-15 to the matter under review, the former employee did not participate in the selection of the computer software firm which now proposes to hire her. As long as she continues this nonparticipation in any matter at issue between her employer and DCF (e.g., contract amendment, contract extension, compliance with contract terms) and strictly limits her work to implementation of the project in question, the employment agreement is permissible under the relevant statutory provisions as construed by this Commission.

By order of the Commission,

Rosemary Giuliano

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:03:54 AM