The Monroe Housing Authority (Authority) has established standards of conduct for its employees and members of its Board of Commissioners. These standards are designed to assure the utmost in public trust and confidence in the policies and practices of the Authority. Because of its status as a government agency, the Authority recognizes its responsibility to conduct all business in a manner above reproach or censure. This Code of Ethics will describe in detail the standards by which members of the Board of Commissioners and staff are to be held accountable.
This code recognizes and incorporates those sections of federal, state, and local law which govern the conduct of public employees, and in no way supplants those provisions of law. In cases where no statutory precedent exists, the policy of the Monroe Housing Authority shall be applied, except that this policy shall in no way be taken to supersede the provisions of any contracts, labor agreements, or other external agreements affecting the rights and privileges of employees.
The Standards of Conduct contained within the Code of Ethics shall be generally applied so as to avoid the appearance, or actual occurrence of, any favoritism or special treatment towards any applicant, resident, vendor, or agent having business, or dealings of any kind, with the Authority. No Commissioner or employee shall use or cause or allow to be used his or her position to secure any personal privileges for himself, herself, or others, or to influence the activities, actions, or proceeds of the Authority.
This Code is also intended to serve as a Code of Conduct for purposes of satisfying certain Code of Conduct requirements for various grant programs.
It is not intended, nor should it be construed as, an attempt to unreasonably intrude upon the individual employee’s or Commissioner’s right to privacy and the right to participate freely in a democratic society and economy.
ETHICAL STANDARDS FOR EMPLOYEES
No employee of the Monroe Housing Authority shall have any employment, or engage in any business or commercial transaction, or engage in any professional activity, or incur any obligation in which directly or indirectly he or she would have an interest that would impair his or her independence of judgment or action in the performance of his or her official duties or that would be in conflict with the performance of his or her official duties.
Regular internal audits will be performed to ensure compliance with laws and regulations and help to maintain accurate and timely financial reporting and data collection of the Authority’s risk areas of financial (collections and disbursements), operational, compliance, environmental, and IT.
Contracts and Procurement
No employee shall have or enter into any contract with any person who has or enters into a contract with the Authority unless:
- The contract between the person and the Authority is awarded pursuant to competitive bidding procedures and/or purchasing policies as outlined in regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), state law, and the Monroe Housing Authority Procurement Policy; or
- The contract between the person and the Authority is one in which the Authority employee has no interest, has no duties or responsibilities, or if the contract with the person is one which the Authority employee entered into prior to becoming an employee.
No employee, officer or agent of Monroe Housing Authority shall participate in selection, or in the award or administration of a contract supported by Federal funds if a conflict of interest, real or apparent, would be involved. Such a conflict would arise when:
- The employee, officer or agent,
- Any member of his immediate family,
- His or her partner, or
- An organization which employs, or is about to employ, any of the above, has a financial or other interest in the firm selected for award.
Gratuities. R.S. 115
No Authority employee shall solicit any gift or consideration of any kind, nor shall any Authority employee accept or receive a gift having value in excess of $25.00 regardless of the form of the gift, from any person who has an interest in any matter proposed or pending before the Authority, including, but not limited to, contractors, potential contractors, or parties to sub-agreements.
R.S. 1115: Elected officials and public employees are prohibited from soliciting or accepting a gift from the following persons:
1) persons who have or are seeking to obtain a contractual or other business or financial relationship with the public servant’s agency; or
2) persons who are seeking, for compensation, to influence the passage or defeat of legislation by the public servant’s agency.
3) persons who conduct operations or activities regulated by the public employee’s agency; or
4) persons who have substantial economic interests which may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the public employee’s official duties.
The prohibition against soliciting or accepting a gift from certain persons extends to officers, directors, agents, or employees of such person. The gift prohibition does not prohibit food or drink consumed as the personal guest of the person providing the food or drink, including reasonable transportation and entertainment incidental thereto. The person providing the food and drink may not provide a public servant more than $70 of food and drink per single event. The $70 limit does not apply to a gathering held in conjunction with a meeting of a national or regional organization or a statewide organization of government officials or employees, or to a public servant of a post-secondary education attending a private fundraiser for the post-secondary institution.
The gift prohibition does not prohibit the receipt of promotional items having no substantial resale value (i.e.: cups, hats, or pens with a company’s logo).
Misuse of Authority
No authority employee acting individually shall bind or attempt to bind the Housing Authority by action or verbal representation without proper authority.
Disclosure of Information
No Authority employee shall disclose without proper authorization non-public information or records concerning any aspects of the operation of the Authority, nor shall he or she use such information to the advantage or benefit of himself, herself, or any other person. This shall include records maintained on enrollees of the Authority, for whom a properly executed release of information form shall be obtained and kept in the client file. The release of any information relative to enrollees of the Authority shall be done pursuant to government regulations allowing the release of information among government agencies or agencies receiving government subsidy, shall be done following prescribed methods of requesting and transmitting such information, and shall be done with full knowledge of the enrollee except in those cases where through action of law the enrollee’s knowledge is not required.
Interests in Monroe Housing Authority Matters
No Authority employee shall have an interest in a contract between any person and the Authority, except that this provision shall not apply if the contract was entered into prior to the employee’s hire by the Authority; the employee discloses his or her interest in the contract prior to employment; and after employment, the employee has no power to authorize or approve payment under the contract, monitor performance or compliance under the contract, or audit bills or claims under the contract and the compensation of the employee will not be affected by the contract.
No employee of the Authority shall discuss, vote upon, decide or take part in (formally or informally) any matter before the Authority in which he or she has an interest. Exception shall be made in the case of an employee whose interest in the matter is minimal (e.g., an employee helping decide on a new telephone system owns 100 shares of AT&T stock), provided the employee shall fully and specifically describe his or her interest, in writing, and the underlying basis of it, whether it be ownership, investment, contract, claim, employment or family relationship, to his or her immediate supervisor prior to the employee’s participation. If, in the opinion of the supervisor, there is any question as to whether the interest is minimal, the matter shall be referred to the Ethics Review Committee for a binding decision on the question.
Any matter decided on, contracted, adjudicated, or in any way acted upon by an employee who does not disclose a personal interest either in the matter, or in any person or organization having an interest in the matter, may be considered null and void by the Authority. Such a matter may be referred to the Ethics Review Committee to render judgment and assess any penalties if necessary.
If the Ethics Review Committee renders judgment that a matter was performed; a contract entered into; or any matter was conducted, decided or acted upon in a manner prohibited by the Code of Ethics; it may then propose, among other things, that the Board of Commissioners seek an injunction against the proscribed action.
No Authority employee currently employed shall represent any person, other than himself, in business negotiations, judicial or administrative actions or procedures, to which the Authority may be a party.
No former employee of the Authority shall personally represent any person in a matter in which the former employee personally participated while employed by the Authority for one year, if such representation would be adverse to the interests of the Authority. This provision shall not, however, bar the timely filing by a current or former employee, of any claim, account, demand, or suit arising out of personal injury, property damage, or any benefit authorized or permitted by law.
No Authority employee shall have any employment, engage in any business or commercial transaction, or engage in any professional activity in which, directly or indirectly, he or she would have an interest that would impair his or her independence of judgement or action in the performance of his or her duties with the Authority or that would be in conflict with his or her duties at the Authority.
No person employed by the Authority shall be permitted to participate as a lessor or lessor’s agent in the leasing programs. Similarly, no member of the Board of Commissioners in his or her individual capacity shall be a lessor or lessor’s agent. These prohibitions, however, shall not apply where the employee or Commissioner is a principal in a not-for-profit or charitable, educational, or humanitarian agency or organization that may own or manage housing for rental purposes.
Employment of Family Members
No member of the family of any Authority employee shall be appointed or hired to serve under the direct supervision or authority of that employee, and in no event shall any Authority employee participate in the decision-making regarding employment or contract for services of any family member.
Post Employment. R.S. 1121
1) During the two-year period following the termination of public service as an agency head or elected official, these individuals may not assist another for compensation, in a transaction, or in an appearance in connection with any transaction involving their former agency nor may they render any service on a contractual basis to or for their former agency.
2) During the two-year period following the termination of public service as a board or commission member, these individuals may not contract with, be employed in any capacity by, or be appointed to any position by that board or commission. The Board has interpreted Aboard or commission@ to include a collective body that shares responsibility for its actions. This would include school boards, police juries, boards of aldermen, a group of selectmen, a council, etc.
3) During the two-year period following the termination of public service as a public employee, these individuals may not assist another for compensation, in a transaction, or in an appearance in connection with a transaction involving the agency in which the former public employee participated while employed by the agency nor may the former public employee provide on a contractual basis to his former public employer, any service he provided while employed there
ETHICAL STANDARDS FOR COMMISSIONERS
The Board of Commissioners of the Monroe Housing Authority is the architect of policy governing the operations of the Authority and retains legal and fiscal responsibility for the Authority. Recognizing that the commissioners are chosen from a broad range of fields and professions and community interests renders difficult the circumscription of external interests and activities of the Commissioners. It is the intent that, insofar as is possible, the members of the Board of Commissioners are generally enjoined to follow the standards of conduct which are outlined in the Code of Ethics for employees.
Personal Financial Disclosures must be filed annually by May 15th. The report must be filed each year the office or position is held and the year following the termination of the office or position. The report filed by May 15th covers activity in the prior calendar year.
Further, it is expected that a Commissioner will voluntarily and fully outline his or her personal interests and potential conflicts of interest prior to assuming their seat on the board. Such a statement should be submitted to the Board Chairman within ninety (90) days of the Commissioner’s appointment. For Commissioners currently serving, such an updated statement shall be developed within ninety (90) days of their re-appointment for a new term. Such a statement shall disclose the following:
A. The names of any business, organizational, or professional involvements that might reasonably be inferred as having business with the Authority and for which at some point a Commissioner might be expected to vote, legislate, or rule on a matter involving said party.
B. Any current or past contact in, or interest in, activities or programs of the Authority.
1. No Commissioner shall vote, decide on, or discuss any matter before the Board if that Commissioner has an interest in the matter, except that:
a.) A Commissioner having an interest through a voluntary association with the person or organization may be allowed to discuss the matter.
b.) If the matter concerns a person or organization with which the Commissioner had former contact, and that former contact existed either prior to his or her selection, or occurred at least two years prior to the current discussion of the matter, the Commissioner may freely act.
2. No Commissioner may use his or her position on the Board to intimidate, coerce, persuade or otherwise influence any of the activities or employees of the Authority.
3. No Commissioner shall act in any manner to obligate or bind the Authority in an individual manner. While the Board of Commissioners is the Authority’s ultimate decision-maker, it the Board and not individual Commissioners.
EXTERNAL VENDORS AND SUPPLIERS
The Monroe Housing Authority, in establishing standards of conduct for its employees and commissioners, recognizes the importance of establishing standards of conduct for external vendors and suppliers of products and/or services to the Authority. While the Authority cannot mandate the internal conduct or policies of vendors, it nevertheless requires that vendors and suppliers adhere to certain basic principles in conducting business with the Authority. Specifically, these principles include:
A. No direct or indirect personal inducement of Authority employees. This includes the giving of gifts, money, tickets or any item or service having value.
B. No direct or indirect inducement of members of the Board of Commissioners. This shall include the same provisions covering employees, except that it is recognized that in the course of business dealings, there may be times when meals and/or visits may be arranged. In such cases, such events should be reported to the Chairman of the Board, with the nature of the visit explained.
It is expected that vendors or suppliers of professional services to the Authority will be governed by the Code of Ethics to which their particular profession prescribes.
Any vendor or supplier found in violation of Authority policy shall be barred from future business dealings with the Authority. The Authority reserves the right to have vendors and suppliers sign a statement of compliance with the standards of conduct of the Authority.
All employees of Monroe Housing Authority and members of its Board of Commissioners, including appointed members of boards and commissioners, as Louisiana Public Servants are required to complete annually, mandatory online courses available at: https://eap.ethics.la.gov/EthicsTraining/login.aspx (See Ethics Policy and Code of Conduct with Annual Certification for more details).
As required by as required by R.S. 42:1170, the Ethics Designee shall be personnel manager for the Authority who is responsible for facilitating/maintaining the Authority’s Ethics training, policies, and procedures.
If you suspect the misappropriation (theft), fraud, waste, or abuse of public funds by anyone, you should report the situation immediately to your supervisor, the personnel officer or the Executive Director. Complaints may be made orally or in writing. You may contact any of these sources without first contacting your supervisor.
You may also contact the Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA) Hotline by phone at 1-844-503-7283, by fax at 1-844-403-7283, or online at ReportFraud.La.com. Complaints may also be mailed by U.S. Mail to LLA Hotline, P.O. Box 94397, Baton Rouge, LA 70804. MHA expects all employees to fully cooperate in investigations.