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socrateaser, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 39180
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I am currently the director of purchasing for a school district

Customer Question

I am currently the director of purchasing for a school district in texas and have been doing it for about 11 years. I am also a city commisioner for the same town that I work in. I am looking at opening a consulting firm in which I would provide services on a range of the specialties that I have acquired throughout the years. In particular, a friend that has a networking business for quite some time and sells mostly to the private sector has approached for help in trying to sell to school districts and municipalities. Since this is my strong area of expertise, he is asking me if I can provide him with consulting services that can assist him in getting on the vendor's list, quoting projects and knowing more about the process in place in order to get into this market. Knowing in advance that he will not do business with this district or this municipality because of my association, is there a possibility to assist him without getting into conflict of interest issues given my status?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 8 years ago.

As long as you are only providing information about "how to" navigate the public contracting system, you are okay. However, if you actually assist in influencing a purchase decision, even by allowing your name to be used to gain meetings with other public officials, and you receive money for doing so, then that would be criminal bribery or acceptance of an honorarium.


Customer: replied 8 years ago.

When you say public officials, do you mean board members our other city commissioners? I do understand that public officials would not be approched at all because that is straght forward conflict of interest. The extent of the conversations would be to assist the firm in approaching director's of purchasing, buyers, etc., or anybody that is involved with the school district or municipality purchasing process. I would advise them how to find out what projects are currently in place and to provide quotes, bids and proposals knowing in advance all the purchasing legal parameters must be followed at all times. The firm will then compensate me for the services provided. In terms of rules and regulations relating to purchasing I have no problem with it because I have been doing it for quite some time and I know what I can and can't do. However, by offering this assistance or services, will it be ok to go forward. And if so, how should it be done?

Expert:  socrateaser replied 8 years ago.

By public official, I mean anyone who serves (receives a paycheck from) the public fisc.


You can help someone with meeting the requirements of a purchase contract. You can tell them who to contact and how to contact them. You can't tell the person that they're trying to contact that you sent the person or that you are recommending them.


You also can't advise a client about what should be legally done, because that's practicing law (unless you're a licensed member of the State Bar of Texas).


So, it's a fine line with some muddy water.


As far as my answering the question about "how should it be done," that's an incredibly broad question. You can form any sort of business entity you wish or none at all, but you definitely need to keep this business scrupulously distinct from your work (no phone calls or emails at your work office, etc.).


socrateaser and other Business Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
good enough. Thank You!
Expert:  socrateaser replied 8 years ago.

You're welcome and good luck.