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Conflicts of Interest

Conflicts of Interest
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Overview

The Code of Ethics is intended to prevent you from using your State job and official position to benefit yourself or someone else. 

The Code of Ethics not only addresses actual conflicts of interest, but also conduct that can create the appearance of such conflicts when performing your State job.

Who does the Code of Ethics apply to?

The Code of Ethics applies to all officers and employees of New York State including:

  • Legislative members and employees

  • Officers and employees of any State agency, department, division, board, commission, or any public benefit corporation or public authority at least one of whose members is appointed by the Governor, including unpaid and per diem officers and members of such entities. 

  • Officers and employees of the following  specific “closely affiliated corporations:” Youth Research Inc., The Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc., Health Research Inc., The Research Foundation of the State University of New York, and Welfare Research Inc.

General Rule

New York State officers and employees and Legislative members and employees shall not...

have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business or transaction or professional activity or incur any obligation of any nature, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his (or her) duties in the public interest.”

Standards of Conduct

The Code of Ethics contains nine standards of conduct. Each standard examines the types of conflicts that State officers and employees are prohibited from engaging in while in State service.

  • Impartiality: maintaining independent judgment with respect to your State job.  (Standard A)

  • Confidentiality: understanding the types of information that may be shared with colleagues and members of the public, not sharing confidential information acquired in the course of performing official duties, and not using confidential information to benefit yourself or someone else.  (Standards B and C)

  • Stewardship of State resources: preventing you from using your official position to secure unwarranted benefits or favors for yourself or others, and not utilizing the resources of the State for your own personal use. (Standard D)

  • Financial conflicts: abstaining from personal investments that conflict with your official duties, and avoiding transactions with any entity in which you may have a direct or indirect financial interest.  (Standards E and G)

  • Integrity standards: avoiding situations in which it may appear you could be influenced or would attempt to influence someone else, and conducting yourself in a manner that does not raise suspicion among the public that you’re personally benefitting from your official position. (Standards F and H)

  • Business with the State: as a State officer or employee, you are restricted from contracting for work and/or providing goods and services to entities that are licensed or regulated by your agency.  Circumstances do exist that may allow you to  concurrently work for both.  (Standard I)

 

Reverse Two-year Bar

  • In Advisory Opinion Nos. 98-09 and 07-04, the Commission interpreted Public Officers Law § 74 to contain this “reverse two-year bar” in order to prevent the appearance that you, in performing your State duties, may give preferential treatment to, or be unduly influenced by, your former private sector employer. 
  • In practice, the “reverse two-year bar” prevents the appearance that you, in performing your State duties, may give preferential treatment to, or be unduly influenced by, your former private sector employer.

  • If your Ethics Officer or JCOPE determines that recusal is appropriate, it runs for two years from the date that you terminated employment with the private sector employer.

Solicited and unsolicited job offers

As a State officer or employee, there are restrictions on when and if you may negotiate future employment with an entity or individual that has a specific matter pending before you.

If you receive an unsolicited job offer from an entity or individual that has a specific matter pending before you, or if you are interested in soliciting an employment opportunity with such an entity or individual, you may pursue an employment opportunity only after waiting 30 days from:

  1. The date the matter before you is closed; or

  2. The date on which you notified your supervisor and Ethics Officer of your intent to pursue a job offer and recused yourself from the matter and any further contact with the entity or individual.

You have a duty to promptly notify your supervisor and Ethics Officer if you receive an unsolicited job offer or if you intend to solicit a job offer from an entity or individual that has a specific matter pending before you.

Depending on the circumstances, failure to follow these requirements could result in a violation of Public Officers Law § 74 (the Code of Ethics) and/or the gift restrictions found in Public Officers Law § 73(5), since the promise of future employment can be seen as a gift.

Informational Resources

  •  

    Ethics Reminder: Use of Agency Letterhead

    The Joint Commission on Public Ethics periodically releases Ethics Reminders. Each Reminder is a brief and easy to understand synopsis of the laws and rules under the Commission’s jurisdiction. Ethics Reminders are issued to assist those subject to the Commission’s jurisdiction in understanding and complying with their obligations under the law.

     

    Download

  •  

    Ethics Reminder: Remember the 30-Day Rule

    The Joint Commission on Public Ethics periodically releases Ethics Reminders. Each reminder is a brief and easy to understand synopsis of the laws and rules under the Commission’s jurisdiction. Ethics Reminders are issued to assist those subject to the Commission’s jurisdiction in understanding and complying with their obligations under the law.

     

    Download

Contact The JCOPE Attorney of the Day

The Commission administers an "Attorney of the Day" program to help provide State officials and employees, lobbyists, and clients of lobbyists with free, confidential advice, both formal and informal, on navigating the State's ethics and lobbying laws. 

Contact us by phone:
Hotline - Press "2" to speak to the attorney of the day   800-87-ETHICS (873-8442)
Contact us by email:
Mailing Address:

New York State

Joint Commission on Public Ethics

540 Broadway 

Albany, New York 12207