Tuesday, April 05, 2011

follow up to question re conflict of interest rules re Santiago Taveras and other DOE employees

[Attachment(s) from Leonie Haimson included below]
See  Diane’s question about Santiago Taveras, going to work for Cambridge Education, a DOE vendor:
Question: Isn't there a requirement that people who work for the DOE must take a year in which they don't work for any DOE vendors?  Isn't it a conflict of interest to go to work for a vendor immediately?”

Answer from an expert:  “There are rules – basically, if you go to work for a vendor you can’t do business with the DOE for one year and are permanently banned from work on projects for the vendor you also worked on while at DOE, but the Conflict of Interest Board has been very glad to grant waivers to DOE employees under this administration.  See the attached guidelines for DOE employees.”

This is my experience as well, that the COIB basically allows city employees to do anything they like as long as their agency heads or former agency heads allow it, though it doesn’t say this in the key highlighted passage below.

[UPDATE: Rose said in a phone interview Tuesday that originally his team had looked at setting up the new organization as "captive" nonprofit within the NYCDOE, meaning the city schools chancellor would have final say over the program's direction. But in the last few weeks, Rose said, it became evident that the best direction for the concept was to establish the new organization as a "noncaptive" or independent organization, which would give Rose autonomy over the program. That makes it easier to raise funds, Rose said, but also prevents him from collaborating with anyone from the NYCDOE for a full year unless granted a waiver from the city's conflict of interest board.
The chances of that waiver being granted?
I don't [know], I really don't," Rose said. "What I do feel comfortable with is that there is a lot of interest in School of One around the country. I'm committed to protecting the idea and making sure the idea is housed in place gives it best chance for success."]

From the DOE attached document on COI rules:

A vendor I work with at the DOE asked me if I might be interested in leaving the DOE and working
for them. May I interview for a position with that firm?

You could pursue the opportunity, but first you’d have to be removed from your dealings with that firm. Once
the negotiations are over, if you don’t take the position with the firm, you may return to the project you were
working on with the firm. Also, the interviews have to be on your own time; you may not use DOE supplies
or personnel, and you couldn’t use DOE letterhead for any correspondence regarding the position.

The job would involve my returning to the DOE, on behalf of the new firm, to discuss business.
Does that pose a problem?

Yes. Former DOE employees are prohibited from appearing before the DOE on business for a period of one
year. This means you may not appear in person, write letters, or make phone calls to the DOE on behalf of
your new employer for one full year after leaving City employment. You are not restricted from returning to
your old office or school to have lunch with friends, as long as your purpose is social, not business.

No mention here of the possibility of getting a waiver (though it does in other sections, like this one about getting a part-time job with another company while remaining at DOE, which would seem to be even more problematic.

What if the job is with a firm that has business dealings with the City or the DOE?

Waivers are available, depending on circumstances. You must receive written approval from the Chancellor
stating that your second job would not conflict with your official DOE duties. Contact the DOE’s Ethics
Officer to see if the Chancellor will approve your request. The approval, if granted, will be forwarded by the
Ethics Officer to the COIB along with a request for a waiver. If the COIB sees no conflict, you will be granted
a waiver and you will be permitted to take the second job. If the firm has dealings with the DOE, obtaining a
waiver is more difficult, but each waiver request is handled on a case-by-case basis.

there is perhaps more clarification on the COIB website here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/conflicts/html/home/home.shtml

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Current Chancellor Cathie Black worked for IBM. Since they are a DOE vendor, is that a conflict of interest? Yes, but it didn't matter.

Former Chancellor Joel Klein started the iZone. He now works for NewsCorp developing internet educational material, will that be a conflict of interest? Yes, but it won't matter.

Deputy Chancellor Santiago Taveres will take a position working for the company that brought NYC the Quality Review. Will that be a conflict of interest? Again, yes, but it won't matter.

Accountability is for everyone else. There's no accountability at the top. Why would that change now?