CONTROL OF CONFLICTS OF INTEREST IN HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT ADMINISTRATION

State highway departments and transportation agencies have a continuing need to keep abreast of operating practices and legal elements of special problems involving contracts, as well as highway law in general. This report deals with legal questions surrounding conflicts of interest involving public officials. An extensive body of law has been developed to control or prevent conflicts of interest in public transactions. From common law origins dealing chiefly with bribery of judical officers and employees, state legislation has extended the scope of these laws to reach all types of governmental functions and classes of public officers and employees, and has enlarged their purpose to include prevention as well as punishment of unlawful conflicts. Much of the present body of conflict of interest law applicable to the award and administration of highway contracts is in response to numerous investigations by executive and legislative bodies, including a thorough inquiry by the House Special Subcommittee into the Federal Aid Highway Program. Use of administrative power and procedures added flexibility to the enforcement of conflict of interest rules and paved the way to the most recent developments in this body of law, namely: enactment of codes of ethics for public officials and establishment of financial disclosure laws. These laws have set forth requirements that must rely more on voluntary compliance and the disciplinary processes of personal administration than on enforcement in the criminal courts. Acceptance of these conditions as part of the terms of public employment has not as far impaired constitutionally protected rights, but financial disclosure laws have raised more serious constitutional issues.

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00193799
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Jun 13 1979 12:00AM