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Conflict of interest

Conflict of interest

Conflict of interest

I want to discuss topics of conflicts of interest.

I am currently in a tough position. I work for a local government (Water Authority) which I am one of the main contacts that works with private engineering firms/consultants.

I am currently wanting to expand my skills but cannot find a single firm/consultant that I do not currently work with one way or another in my current job. The place I work for is the largest city in the state and I want to ask the question here and get everyone's opinion.

Is it okay for me to work with one of these consultants that does not do much work in my County (which I approve plans and plats etc... for) and perform coordinated consulting work with this engineer outside of my area?

I wonder if I do this does this present a conflict when this person seeks approval from me in my county? I would not have conflict making my decisions but would it present a bad professional decision?


RE: Conflict of interest

I would stay away from any pretence of conflict of interest. Why not look for some fully retired engineers in your area and see if any of them would be your mentor.

RE: Conflict of interest

Your work place would have rule against moonlighting, not to say with contractor that has direct interest link to it. Listen to BigH, if you really want to expand your skill/knowledge.

RE: Conflict of interest

There are countless training seminars offered be the various engineering organizations.your current employer may even cover the expenses as it increases the benefit to your department!

RE: Conflict of interest

Dgg0825....You are probably in a better position than you think. Doing work with/for consultants with whom you might be in an approval position now or later will likely present a conflict of interest. I know some municipal engineers who do this outside their county; however you might still put yourself in a perceived compromising situation.

Many of these firms would be willing to hire you full time because of your knowledge of your county's approval process. Take the plunge and expand your knowledge base.

RE: Conflict of interest

Thank you all for your response.

I like my retirement and benefits where I work now so do not want to comprimise my retiring at 55y/o. I do however want to gain knowledge of the development side of things. It does suck that I work with most engineers in the state that practice in this area. I plan to create a business in the future after I retire for myself and potentially my kids if they choose to go this route as well.

I have approved work for this engineer once before but his major workload is in a county very far away. I will not take a chance and blemish my career by working with him unfortunately. Even though, my ethical choices would never be swayed by the work I see how it could be perceived as such if anything came into question.

I have been approached by other firms about working with them but with my family, this job gives me the stability I like and time for me to take off when needed. Most of my peers who work for these firms often work weekends and nights due to the large amount of work and lack of engineers in this area. They do make more than me but work much more as well. I want to do it to learn mostly to become proficient in creating the stuff I also review.

Thanks again for all of the great insight, I appreciate the confirmation of what I already suspected to be a potential issue. You know us engineers like confirmation.

RE: Conflict of interest

I work for municipality and once worked for a consultant that had projects with us, but not in my area of expertise.

I went to my employer's attorney for advice and let my boss know. The consensus was there is no ethics violation, but it is also important to avoid the APPEARANCE of a conflict, even if there is none.
At some point that consultant moved their business in to the area of expertise I worked in. they tried to hire me full time, but i declined. i then at some point ended the part-time work for them.

then a year later they started sending in proposals I could have possibly reviewed. i had to then excuse myself and have someone else attend interviews etc. Our attorney said I should excuse myself for at least a year after end of this employment. and after that, i still have to declare to the other members of the panel that i once worked for them. Fortunately my position now doesn't include reviewing such proposals anymore.

In the end,a lot of trouble for little gain. I advise to be very open with you employer inc. their legal/ethics authority. You (and the consultant) don't know what type of proposals they want to pursue in a year. and maybe the whole trying to hire you is based on the premise that you could "help" them out in your position. Same way politicians are hired as board members etc.

RE: Conflict of interest

1 Disclose to all parties in question. If you are salaried at the county, they may consider you to be 24/7 and forbid moonlighting as indicated above.
2 Recuse yourself from any future County approvals involving consultant. If you are the only one, this is a deal breaker.

RE: Conflict of interest

I think the OP made a good choice in passing this up. It goes beyond just reviewing work for that contractor. If that contractor competes with the others in neighboring counties (or anywhere), just doing his job could be misconstrued as unfairly punishing his part time employer's competitors. It could get really sticky really fast.

RE: Conflict of interest

To add: If you need to recuse yourself from approving or reviewing or any other work to stay ethical - this is impacting your job. At the point the side-job is impacting your regular job, it should be a no-no.

And you are int he public eye. Even if you have nothing to do with your "moon" employer getting a government contract, or a plan approved, thee will be the appearance and talk that they got that because of you.

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