Engineer A contracts to serve as a consultant to a federal environmental agency for the development of an overall hazardous waste remedial strategy. Under the contract with the federal agency, Engineer A agrees to provide basic consulting services along with an understanding that the federal agency may request additional services at a later date. Nothing is contained in the contract between Engineer A and the agency concerning other work for other clients. Two years following completion of basic services to the federal agency, Engineer A is retained to provide environmental consulting services by a major industrial corporation which has been deemed by the federal agency to be responsible in a dispute over the clean-up of a hazardous waste site. Following the execution of its contract with the corporation, Engineer A is contacted by the federal environmental agency and is asked to provide consulting services to the agency per Engineer A’s original understanding with the agency in connection with the specific hazardous waste site of the major industrial corporation which is now a client of Engineer A. Engineer A informs the federal agency that the performance of such services would constitute a conflict of interest and declines to perform the services requested.
Was it unethical for Engineer to agree to perform services to the industrial corporation under the facts without the prior consent of the federal agency?