As a public officer, you have a responsibility to act in an ethical manner in compliance with New York state law and SUNY policy. By complying with the law, you avoid conflicts of interest that undermine the public’s trust in our college and help to forge a community built on shared values of honesty, trust and integrity.
As an employee of the college you are considered a public officer and are expected to adhere to ethical standards outlined in New York state law. The information below will help you better understand your role and responsibility as a public officer. At the core of all ethical obligations is the prevention of actual and apparent conflicts of interests between official duties and private interests.
The Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011 (“PIRA”) became effective on August 15, 2011. It established the Joint Commission of Public Ethics (“JCOPE”). JCOPE has jurisdiction of all New York state and SUNY employees.
JCOPE’s role with ethics:
- Oversees ethics within New York state agencies, include SUNY campuses.
- Oversees the administration of ethics laws.
Summary of Applicable Laws & Regulations
Code of Ethics
The Code of Ethics, or Public Officers Law Section 74, is intended to prevent the use of your official position or authority for the benefit of yourself or another.
The Code of Ethics not only addresses actual conflicts of interest, but also the appearance of such conflicts when performing the official duties. The Code of Ethics' guiding principles and what they mean for you are outlined below.
- You should not accept outside employment that impairs your impartiality in performing your state duties and responsibilities.
- You should not accept outside employment or engage in any business or professional activity that requires you to disclose confidential information you have received in your state position.
- You should not disclose confidential information you have received in your state position. In addition, you should not use such confidential information to further your personal interests.
Stewardship of State Resources Avoiding Financial Conflicts
- You should not use or attempt to use your state position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for yourself or others. This includes, but is not limited to, the misappropriation to yourself or others of the property, services, or other resources of the state for private business or other compensated nongovernmental purposes.
Avoiding Inappropriate Business with the State
- If you are a full-time state employee, you are prohibited from contracting for the provision of goods and services with entities regulated or licensed by your agency. In addition, this prohibition applies to any entity in which you are a member, and to any corporation a substantial portion of the stock of which is owned or controlled directly or indirectly by you.
Avoiding Financial Conflicts
- You should not engage in any transaction as representative or agent of the state with any business entity in which you have direct or indirect financial interest that might reasonably tend to conflict with the proper discharge of your state duties.
- You should not make personal investments in enterprises that are directly related to your state duties, or that would create a substantial conflict between your state duties and your private interest.
Adhering to Integrity Standards
- In your personal and professional life, you should not conduct yourself in such a way that gives the reasonable impression that a person or entity can improperly influence you, or enjoy your favor, in the performance of your state duties.
- You should conduct yourself in a manner that does not raise suspicion that you are engaged in personal or official acts that are in violation of the public trust.
Requests To Make In Advance
For certain activities, requests must be made in advance to comply with legal restrictions in state law and principles of ethical conduct.
The campus ethics officers and JCOPE are here to help. When in doubt, ASK in advance!
Financial Disclosure & Training
Certain SUNY Plattsburgh employees are required to file an annual financial disclosure statement (“FDS”) and participate in periodic ethics training. Employees will be notified by a campus ethics officer or by the New York state JCOPE if they need to file and complete the training.
With some exceptions, JCOPE requires state employees with an annual salary over the salary threshold ($101,379 effective April 1, 2020) to file a FDS every year.
Additional Information & Considerations
Writing a letter? Think twice before using college letterhead.
What about the appearance? Limits on working an outside job under the Public Officers Law.
Looking for a new job? Remember the 30-day rule.
Working or volunteering for another organizations? There are restrictions for outside activities.
If you have any questions about your ethical responsibilities or issues, please contact a campus ethics officer:
Daniel Lake, Associate Professor, Chair of Political Science and Director of the Institute for Ethics and Public Life
Lauren Currie, Ethics Officer