Admin

Frequently Asked Questions

Categories

Administration of the Policy
Conflict of Interest: Vendor Employment of OCPS Employees
Conflict of Interest: Disclosure
Discounts
Gifts
Gratuitous Meals
Intellectual Property, Goods and Services
Lobbying by Former Employees
No Contact Period
Payment for Travel
Penalties
Product Testimonials



Question

Answer

Category: Administration of the Policy

Who is the Ethics Compliance Officer and how do I submit a question?

Vivian Cocotas is the Ethics Compliance Officer.
To submit a question, please email Vivian at Vivian.Cocotas@ocps.net.

Category: Conflict of Interest: Vendor Employment of Employee

An OCPS employee wishes to work for a current Vendor.


No.


May the OCPS employee do so, if the extra work will not interfere with their OCPS duties?

A current OCPS employee may not be employed by or have a contractual relationship with a Vendor pursuant to section 4 under Conflicts of Interest of Policy KCE.

An OCPS employee works with a particular Vendor in the procurement process, and decides to leave OCPS.


No.


Within one month of termination with OCPS, may the former OCPS employee goes to work for such Vendor if the new job involves the Vendor’s contracts with OCPS?

For one year after leaving OCPS, a former OCPS employee may not work for a Vendor, if the OCPS employee was involved in the procurement process for that Vendor, and the new employment activities with that Vendor relate directly to that same contract with OCPS, pursuant to section 5 under Conflicts of Interest of Policy KCE.

An individual has not been employed with OCPS for one year.


No.


May the former OCPS employee make use of their OCPS experience and lobby to the School Board on behalf of a prospective OCPS Vendor, for which the former employee now works?

A former OCPS employee may not lobby on behalf of a Vendor, until two years have passed from the date of termination, pursuant to section 7 under Lobbying Activities of Policy KCE, subject to two exceptions. Such lobbying is permitted if conducted for organized labor purposes, or if a hardship waiver is granted by the School Board.

An OCPS Employee runs their own business when they are not working at OCPS.


No.


If the OCPS employee has some free time during their normal workday at OCPS, may he/she use an OCPS workstation to manage their side business?

Operation of a personal business while an OCPS Employee is scheduled on duty is prohibited, pursuant to section 5 under Outside Employment of OCPS Employees of Policy KCE.

An OCPS employee wishes to work for a current vendor. May the OCPS employee accept such employment if the second job will not interfere with their OCPS duties?

No. A current OCPS employee may not be employed by or have a contractual relationship with a vendor unless the employee has written consent from the Superintendent or the Ethics Compliance Officer.

An OCPS employee works with a particular vendor in the procurement process and after the contract is signed, quits his/her job at OCPS. Within one month of termination, may the vendor hire the former OCPS employee if the employee will work on the same contract in his/her new job with the vendor?

No. For a period of one year from the date of termination, the employee may not work on matters with the vendor relating to the same contract the employee worked on at OCPS.

Category: Conflict of Interest: Disclosure

A prospective Vendor is the cousin of an OCPS employee participating in the procurement process. Must the OCPS employee disclose that fact?


Yes. Any potential conflict must be disclosed by OCPS staff, pursuant to section 2 under Conflicts of Interest of Policy KCE. Conflicting relationships include professional relationships, business relationships, and Familial Relationships.


A prospective vendor is the cousin of an OCPS employee participating in the procurement process. Must the vendor disclose?

Yes. Any potential conflict must be disclosed.

Category: Discounts

OCPS awarded a contract for hundreds of computers to a certain vendor. Because of the successful contract, the vendor offers his contact in the OCPS Procurement Office, a personal computer at 50% off normal list price. May the OCPS employee buy the computer at the discounted price?

No. The employee may not receive preferential treatment from a vendor when making personal purchases. The employee could only accept the discount if the vendor offered the same price to all employees of OCPS.

Category: Gifts

An OCPS employee with non-contracting authority receives a food basket gift on their birthday from a prospective Vendor during the No Contact Period. May the employee accept the gift?

No. No Business Associate, Business Entity, Lobbyist, Principal or Vendor shall provide a gift to an OCPS Employee or Board Member during the No Contact Period, pursuant to section 3 under Prohibition on Gifts During the No-Contact Period of Policy KCE.

An OCPS employee with contracting authority receives a gift basket of cookies, cheese, and crackers delivered to the office during the Christmas holiday. May the employee accept the basket?

Yes. Pursuant to Section 4(h) under Gratuitous Meals, Gifts, and Certain Travel Restrictions of the KCE Policy, an employee with contracting authority can accept a perishable gift on a gift giving occasion so long as they distribute it to OCPS employees without contracting authority and the individual with contracting authority does not take ownership or exclusive control of the gift.

An OCPS employee becomes friends with a prospective Vendor desiring to sell computers to OCPS. The computer rep receives some tickets to a basketball game from his company, and invites the OCPS employee to join him. May the tickets be accepted?

No. Any gift which could be understood to influence the recipient’s official action is impermissible, pursuant to section 2 under Gratuitous Meals, Gifts and Certain Travel Restrictions of Policy KCE.
Also, if the procurement process has begun, a gift is disallowed pursuant to section 3 under Gratuitous Meals, Gifts and Certain Travel Restrictions of Policy KCE, which prohibits gifts during the No Contact Period.

An OCPS Vendor has submitted to OCPS, documents in connection with a Request For Bid for mechanical pencils. Before the Vendor is awarded the contract, the Vendor sends a Board Member four Magic tickets.

May the Board Member accept the tickets?

No.

Pursuant to section 3 under Gratuitous Meals, Gifts and Certain Travel Restrictions of Policy KCE, no business associate, business entity, lobbyist, principal, or vendor shall provide a gift to an OCPS employee or Board Member during the period from when a request for bid, proposal, or qualification is submitted and it is awarded or denied (the “No-Contact Period”).

An OCPS employee is responsible for or contributes to determinations relative to certain product purchases by OCPS. The OCPS Employee authorizes the purchase of supplies from an OCPS Vendor who happens to be a childhood friend of the Employee. As a gesture of thanks, the Vendor presents the OCPS Employee with two tickets to Disney.

May the tickets be accepted?

No.

The long-term relationship suggests that favoritism might have been involved in awarding the contract. In addition, the tickets could reasonably be understood to improperly influence future purchases by OCPS. Pursuant to paragraph 2 under Gratuitous Meals, Gifts and Certain Travel Restrictions of Policy KCE, OCPS Employees should guard against relationships which might be construed as evidence of favoritism, coercion, unfair advantage, or collusion and should not accept gifts that may indicate that the official action was influenced by the gift.

Mary, an OCPS employee with contracting authority, receives a wedding gift from her Aunt who happens to work for an OCPS Vendor.

May Mary accept this wedding gift from her Aunt?

Yes.

Pursuant to section 4 under Gratuitous Meals, Gifts and Certain Travel Restrictions of Policy KCE, OCPS Employees may not accept gifts unless the gift is: (a) a gift from a person with a Familial Relationship to the OCPS Employee, (b) a loan from a bank or other financial institution solicited or accepted on customary terms, (c) a campaign contribution otherwise disclosed on appropriate state forms, or (d) it is a donation made or offered to OCPS and accepted on behalf of OCPS and not for the personal or private use of the OCPS employee. In this case an exception is created because the gift is from an individual who is a family member.

An OCPS Employee with contracting authority is invited to attend a musical being put on by Jones High School in their official capacity. Tickets to the performance cost $8, but the employee is let in for free.

May the employee attend the performance without paying?

Yes, so long as proper disclosure is made.

Pursuant to paragraph 4(e) under Gratuitous Meals, Gifts and Certain Travel Restrictions of Policy KCE, since the ticket to the performance is valued over $5.00, the employee must disclose their attendance to the Ethics Compliance Officer within seven calendar days of the event and include: (1) the date of the event; (2) the price of the ticket; and (3) the purpose or role of their attendance at the event.

What happens if an OCPS Employee with contracting authority receives free admission to an event, discloses the information to the Ethics Compliance Officer, and it is determined that they did not attend in their official capacity?

Pursuant to paragraph 4(e) under Gratuitous Meals, Gifts and Certain Travel Restrictions of Policy KCE, the Ethics Compliance Officer may request that the OCPS employee reimburse part or all of the cost of the admission or ticket to the Lobbyist, Principal, or Vendor who provided the gift.

OCPS awarded a contract for hundreds of computers to a particular Vendor. Because of the successful contract, the Vendor offers his OCPS contact employee in OCPS Procurement a personal computer at 50% off normal price.

May the employee buy the computer at the discounted price?

No.

Pursuant to section 7 under Gratuitous Meals, Gifts and Certain Travel Restrictions of Policy KCE, no OCPS employee shall receive preferential treatment when making personal purchases. The employee may not make purchases for personal use through the school or the district.
However, if the Vendor offers a 50% discount on their computers to ALL OCPS employees, then the employee may purchase the computer at the discounted price.

An OCPS Employee involved in the procurement process assists in the success of a new Vendor’s bid.

May the OCPS Employee accept the generous cash award offered in thanks by the Vendor?

No.
Pursuant to section 7 under Outside Employment of OCPS Employees of Policy KCE, gifts or compensation may not be accepted by OCPS Employees for service rendered to a public or private agency while the OCPS Employee was responsible for OCPS assigned duties.

A vendor gives his contact at OCPS a fruit and nut basket at Christmas as a “thank you” for help offered through the bid process. Can the vendor give the OCPS employee the gift?

Yes, but it cannot be accepted for the employee’s personal use. The employee must distribute it to non-contracting employees for shared enjoyment.

An OCPS employee with contracting authority becomes friends with a representative of a company desiring to sell computers to OCPS. The computer representative receives some tickets to a basketball game from his company, and invites the OCPS employee to join him. May the tickets be accepted?

No. The OCPS employee has not been invited to attend in his/her official capacity as a representative of OCPS. Therefore, he/she may not accept, since it may appear as though he/she is accepting the tickets in exchange for beneficial consideration towards the prospective computer sale.

An OCPS employee becomes friends with a prospective Vendor desiring to sell computers to OCPS. The computer representative receives some tickets to a basketball game from his company, and invites the OCPS employee to join him. May the tickets be accepted?

No. Any gift which could be understood to influence the employee’s official action is not allowed. Also, it is not allowed if given during the No Contact Period.

An OCPS Employee is responsible for certain product purchases and authorizes the purchase of books from a vendor. The vendor is a childhood friend of the employee. The Vendor gives the employee two tickets to Disney. Can the employee accept the tickets?

No. The long term relationship suggests favoritism and may improperly influence the employee.

An OCPS employee purchases a large number of supplies for use in OCPS facilities from a childhood friend who is a vendor. As a gesture of thanks, the vendor presents the OCPS employee with a gift certificate to his/her favorite restaurant. May the gift card be accepted?

No. The long-term relationship suggests that favoritism might have been involved in awarding the contract. Additionally, the gift certificate could reasonably be understood to have improperly influenced the final decision by the OCPS employee. Either factor makes accepting the gift impermissible.

A vendor who just won a major bid with OCPS wishes to thank the OCPS employees involved for their hard work throughout the procurement process. The vendor sends a fruit basket to an OCPS employee with contracting authority. May the gift be accepted?

Yes. Perishable gifts such as food baskets may be accepted, so long as the contents are not under sole control and ownership of the initial recipient, and the contents are shared with OCPS employees who do not have Contracting Authority.

Some of OCPS vendors donate gift cards, Kindles, and IPADS which are used for incentives for students in drawings and for the managers when they reach certain goals. Is this permissible?

Probably not. It could reasonably be assumed that the Vendors are donating these gifts to receive some type of unfair advantage and that the OCPS Employee would be influenced by the receipt of such gifts. It may be allowed under limited circumstances where the vendors donating such items provide a written agreement and acknowledgment that by providing such donation, there is no advantage or preference given to the Vendor. OCPS would also need to ensure that any OCPS Employee involved with the acceptance of these gifts or the program providing incentives to students does not have any duties or influence with respect to the procurement process or Vendor Contract in order to avoid the appearance of favoritism or impropriety.

Category: Gratuitous Meals

May an OCPS employee attend a seminar sponsored by a current Vendor which is open to all other non-OCPS participants free of charge, when lunch is served as part of the seminar?

Yes.

The seminar may be attended and lunch accepted pursuant to section 1(a) under Gratuitous Meals, Gifts and Certain Travel Restrictions of Policy KCE: “‘Gratuitous Meals’ [are permitted when] provided in conjunction with attendance at a conference or seminar for which attendance at the meal is available to any interested party or attendees of the conference.”

Eleven OCPS employees attend a seminar sponsored by a prospective Vendor.

May the OCPS employees accept meals offered to them free of charge?

Yes.

If at least ten OCPS employees are provided a meal, the meal is permitted pursuant to section 1(d) under Gratuitous Meals, Gifts and Certain Travel Restrictions of Policy KCE.

However, if the providing Vendor is currently bidding on work with OCPS, or if the No Contact Period is ongoing, then a Gratuitous Meal may not be served, pursuant to section 1(d) under Gratuitous Meals, Gifts and Certain Policy Restrictions of Policy KCE.

A current OCPS teacher is being recognized for his/her outstanding work at an annual dinner hosted and authorized by OCPS, but paid for by ABC Corp., an OCPS computer vendor.

May the teacher accept a meal at the event?

Yes.

Pursuant to section 1(b) under Gratuitous Meals, Gifts, and Certain Travel Restrictions of Policy KCE, an OCPS employee may accept a gratuitous meal if provided as part of an event that is hosted, authorized, endorsed or otherwise sponsored by OCPS, even if a portion or all of the cost are covered by an OCPS vendor. This includes recognition events.

Eleven OCPS employees attend a seminar sponsored by a prospective vendor. May the vendor give the employee meals free of charge?

Yes. If at least ten (10) OCPS Employees are provided a meal, the meal is permitted. However, if the providing vendor is currently bidding on work with OCPS, or if the No-Contact Period is ongoing, then a Gratuitous Meal may not be served.

A lobbyist arrives at a School Board Member’s office just before lunch. Rather than meeting in the School Board Member’s office, they decide to meet at a nearby restaurant. May lunch be accepted if the lobbyist pays the bill?

No. The Gratuitous Meal is provided outside the permitted situations, and may not be accepted. The meeting is permissible so long as the Board Member pays for his or her own meal.

Category: Intellectual Property, Goods and Services

If a parent attended a school event and took a picture of his/her child and other children were also in the picture, could the parent later through his/her photography company, sell the picture to other parents and the school without the principal’s consent or being registered as an OCPS Vendor?

No.
Consent must be given before a photograph of an individual is used for commercial purposes, (Section 540.08, Florida Statutes.)
Prior to conducting business with OCPS, the parent must first register as a Vendor. If the amount sold to OCPS is less than $5,000, then the goods or services offered will be purchased on the open market. If the amount exceeds $5,000, then procurement procedures pursuant to the OCPS Procurement Guide and Board Policy DJB must be followed. The principal’s permission must also be obtained.

An OCPS employee developed an educational product which he/she sells for a profit.
(1) May the employee donate this game for use in OCPS schools?

(2) If the educational product is received favorably, may OCPS schools purchase this product from the OCPS employee or the OCPS employee’s company?

(1) Yes.
The OCPS employee may donate the product for use in OCPS schools.

(2) No.
OCPS may not purchase the product, pursuant to Section 7 under Conflicts of Interest of Policy KCE:
“No OCPS Employee shall sell to OCPS any intellectual property, goods or services he or she developed at any time while the OCPS Employee is employed by OCPS . . .”

An OCPS employee uses a third-party computer program in his/her classroom. The employee is interviewed by an individual writing an article on that computer program desiring to use OCPS as an endorsement of the program.

May the OCPS employee state whether they recommend the computer program to others?

No.
OCPS employees are prohibited from providing testimonials for products offered by Vendors, pursuant to Conflicts of Interest section 6(b) of Policy KCE:
“Any OCPS Employee who provides a testimonial to a Vendor without the written consent of the Ethics Compliance Officer is subject to disciplinary action.”

However, the Ethics Compliance Officer may permit a testimonial if it is deemed in the best interest of OCPS, pursuant to section (k) under Duties of Ethics Compliance Officer of Policy KCE.

An OCPS employee worked in a volunteer capacity to help create an educational computer system during the course of his or her employment with OCPS.

May an outside company now owning the system sell it to OCPS?

No.

Intellectual property developed by an OCPS employee during the course of their employment with OCPS may not be sold to OCPS, even through a third party. This prohibition may be waived by the Superintendant or the Superintendant’s designee on a case-by-case basis pursuant to Conflicts of Interest section 7 of Policy KCE.

An OCPS employee worked as a volunteer to help create an educational computer system during the course of his or her employment with OCPS.

If he/she receives no monetary benefit, may the OCPS employee promote that system to other third parties, which is being sold by a third party for profit?

No.

OCPS employees are prohibited from providing testimonials for products offered by Vendors.

The Ethics Compliance Officer may evaluate on a case-by-case basis as to whether an employee may recommend the system in his/her individual capacity to non-vendor third parties so long as the testimonial is not made on behalf of OCPS, pursuant to section 6 under Conflicts of Interest of Policy KCE.

While employed with OCPS, a current teacher developed a math game to use in her classroom and wants to begin selling it.

Can the teacher sell the game to OCPS?

No.

OCPS Employees may not sell a game or any other intellectual property, good, or service to OCPS if the product was developed during employment with OCPS, pursuant to section 7 under Conflicts of Interest of Policy KCE.

A current OCPS employee wrote a textbook a year prior to working with OCPS.

May OCPS purchase this book to use in classes?

Yes.

Pursuant to section 7 under Conflicts of Interest of Policy KCE, an OCPS Employee may sell intellectual property, goods or services developed while the employee is employed with OCPS. Since the product was developed prior to employment with OCPS, the OCPS employee may sell the product to OCPS so long as the employee registers as a Vendor and the purchase is approved.

An OCPS Employee teaches at an OCPS school, and has written books for students to use during the employee’s free time.

May the OCPS Employee sell those books to her students’ parents?

No.

Pursuant to section 3 under Outside Employment of OCPS Employees of Policy KCE, instructional employees of OCPS are not permitted to sell instructional materials to the parents or guardians of students who are enrolled where they teach.

Several OCPS Employees devise a unique approach to instructing their classes.

May one of these OCPS Employees refine and sell this teaching method for personal profit?

No.

OCPS Employees may not sell or market any work product or other ideas for their own benefit and compensation while employed by OCPS, pursuant to section 6 under Outside Employment of OCPS Employees of Policy KCE.

An OCPS employee worked in a volunteer capacity to help create an educational computer system during the course of his or her employment with OCPS. May an outside company now owning the system sell it to OCPS?

No. Intellectual property developed by an OCPS employee during the course of their employment with OCPS may not be sold to OCPS, even through a third party.

Category: Lobbying by Former Employee

An individual has not been employed with OCPS for one year. May the former OCPS employee make use of their OCPS experience and lobby to the School Board on behalf of a prospective OCPS vendor, for which the former employee now works?

No. A former OCPS employee may not lobby on behalf of a vendor until 2 years from the date of his or her termination.

Category: No Contact Period

A prospective Vendor wishes to meet with an OCPS procurement official about their bid during the No Contact Period.

May the OCPS employee set up a meeting with the Vendor?

No.

Lobbying is not permitted during the No Contact Period, pursuant to section 5 under Lobbying Activities of Policy KCE. Certain exceptions are noted: Any designated Procurement Official(s) who are identified in the procurement documents for receiving questions, clarifications, or protests regarding the bid may be contacted. Additionally, Board Members, the Superintendent, and OCPS employees may be lobbied on matters unrelated to the procurement of goods and services which are the subject services in the No Contact Period.

A Vendor offers a School Board Member a campaign contribution during the No Contact Period.

May the School Board Member accept the donation?

No.

Section 6 under Lobbying Activities of Policy KCE prohibits campaign contributions during the No Contact Period.

A prospective vendor wishes to meet with an OCPS procurement official about their bid during the No Contact Period? May the vendor set up a meeting with the OCPS employee?

No. Lobbying is not permitted during the No Contact Period. However, if the meeting is for asking questions for clarification, of if it is about an unrelated matter, the meeting is allowed.

A vendor offers a School Board Member a campaign contribution during the No Contact Period. May the School Board Member accept the donation?

No. Campaign contributions are prohibited during the No Contact Period.

Category: Payment for Travel

An OCPS vendor invites an OCPS employee to its Miami office to view its new playground equipment and offers to pay the employee’s travel expenses.

May the employee accept reimbursement for her travel?

No.

Pursuant to section 6 under Gratuitous Meals, Gifts and Certain Travel Restrictions of Policy KCE, an OCPS employee may not receive free reimbursement for travel outside of Orange County unless the costs are provided in the vendor’s contract with OCPS or it is determined to be part of the OCPS Employee’s duties and responsibilities. The Ethics Compliance Officer or the COO shall make the determination on a case-by-case basis.

A vendor invites an OCPS employee to its Miami office to view its new playground equipment and offers to pay the employee’s travel expenses. May the vendor pay for the travel costs?

Maybe. The employee may not accept payment for the travel costs outside of Orange County, Florida unless the costs are provided for in the contract or viewing the new playground equipment is part of the employee’s job duties and responsibilities.

Category: Penalties

ABC Corporation submitted a bid regarding the sale of computers to the District. After ABC Corporation is awarded the contract, the Ethics Compliance Officer discovers that ABC made a campaign contribution to a candidate for the School Board during the No Contact Period. Can the contract be terminated?

Yes. A vendor contract may be terminated since a candidate for the School Board received a campaign contribution during the No Contact Period.

Category: Product Testimonials

An OCPS employee receives permission to provide a testimonial to a Vendor.

May the Vendor immediately post this testimonial on promotional materials or a website?

No.

If testimony is offered by an OCPS employee, the seller of the subject product or any other vendor may not make use of the testimonial in any form, unless such seller or Vendor, as the case may be, has the written permission of the Ethics Compliance Officer, pursuant to section 6(a) under Conflicts of Interest of Policy KCE.

An OCPS employee tells a vendor he/she has permission to provide a testimonial to a vendor. May the vendor immediately post this testimonial on its advertising or its website?

No. If testimony is offered to a vendor by an OCPS employee, the vendor may not make use of the testimonial in any form unless the vendor has written permission from the Ethics Compliance Officer.