June 20, 2011
Ms. Kimberly L. Humbles
Department of Health and Hospitals
Bureau of Legal Services
P.O. Box 3836
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70821-3836
Re: Ethics Board Docket No. 2011-867
Dear Ms. Humbles:
The Louisiana Board of Ethics, at its June 17, 2011 meeting, considered your request for an advisory opinion regarding the privatization of certain services performed by the Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health, Vital Records Registry. You stated that the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), Office of Public Health (OPH), Vital Records Registry (VRR) is staffed by a combination of permanent employees, job appointments, restricted appointments and temporary workers. The VRR currently employs fourteen (14) job appointments, which represents approximately one-third of VRR's total staff. You stated that, currently, VRR's call center, the Orleans Parish Marriage Office, archives and data quality are staffed by trained job appointments.
You stated that VRR is looking to privatize the services performed by these sections of VRR. It has been proposed that these job appointments be allowed to expire; therefore, terminated. The Area Health Education Center, which is a quasi-public agency, will enter into a contract with VRR to provide the services the terminated job appointments previously performed and proposes to hire these terminated job appointments. You stated that the hired individuals will perform the same job duties they performed while employed by VRR under the contract between the Area Health Education Center and VRR. You stated that if the Area Health Education Center cannot employ the former job appointments, then this could prevent VRR from carrying out its statutorily mandated duties as the contractor staff must be familiar with all aspects of VRR policies, procedures, and insurance criteria.
In general, Section 1121 of the Code prohibits a former public servant, for two years, from assisting another person, for compensation, in a transaction in which she participated during her public employment and which involves the governmental entity. Section 1112B(4) of the Code prohibits a public servant from participating in a governmental transaction in which a person with who they are negotiating for future employment has a substantial economic interest.
Ms. Kimberly L. Humbles
June 20, 2011
Ethics Board Docket No. 2011-867
However, the Board concluded, and instructed me to inform you, that based on the unique circumstances of the privatization of governmental services, the Code does not, in those instances, prohibit the former employees from being employed by a private entity since their former agency no longer provides such services, provided the former employees do not participate in the governmental entity’s decision to privatize the services. Therefore, if the job appointees in the VRR's call center, the Orleans Parish Marriage Office, archives and data quality did not participate in the decision to privatize the services performed by those agencies, then the former job appointees are not prohibited from being employed by the Area Health Education Center to perform those same services under the contract between Area Health Education Center and the VRR.
This advisory opinion is based solely on the facts as set forth herein. Changes to the facts as presented may result in a different application of the provisions of the Code of Ethics. The Board issues no opinion as to past conduct or as to laws other than the Code of Governmental Ethics. If you have any questions, please contact me at (800) 842-6630 or (225) 219-5600.
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS
Tracy M. Barker
For the Board