The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, settling years of controversy, has adopted a new code that prohibits former county employes who work for private firms from contacting the county about projects they had worked on.

The new law, approved 6 to 0 by the board on Monday, restricts workers' activities for one year after they leave county jobs. The legislation was prompted by the high number of employes who had left the county work force to join local development firms. In a number of cases, the employes have worked for the developers on projects they had overseen for the county.

"There won't be the feeling that people {former county employes} are using inside information to help them get their {land use} approvals," said Supervisor Audrey Moore (D-Annandale), who has advocated the so-called revolving-door legislation for more than a decade.

"For a whole year they can't talk to anyone {employed by the county} in any way about anything they did for the county," Moore said, adding that while she knows of few instances of such improprieties, the new code would prevent "the appearance of it."

The law formalizes a policy enacted by the county board about a year ago: The county had no power to enforce the policy until this year's General Assembly passed enabling legislation.

In addition to what some officials have termed "an exodus" over the years from the county's Office of Comprehensive Planning, the law was sparked by the departure of numerous employes from the Department of Environmental Management, the Office of Transportation, the Department of Public Works and the County Attorney's Office for the private sector.

The code prohibits former county employes "from assisting for remuneration a party, other than a governmental agency, in connection with any proceeding, application, case, contract, or other particular matter . . . if that matter is one in which the former office or employe participated personally and substantially."

Violation of the code, a misdemeanor, is punishable by up to six months in jail, a $500 fine, or both.

Though officials have said they hoped revolving-door legislation would discourage companies from raiding the county work force and stem the number of defections to the private sector, most said yesterday that they doubted the new code would have that effect.

"It's more of an ethical thing," said county personnel director Cornelius J. O'Kane. "I don't believe our employes are being utilized {after they leave} only for their contacts. They are leaving for a salary scale we can't match. They come here for training and they become attractive {to local firms} for their institutional knowledge of {county} processes and procedures."

Albert J. Dwoskin, president of a large development company in Fairfax that has hired a number of county employes, said that "there's always been voluntary compliance" among most local developers in not allowing former county employes to work on projects that they also worked on while employed by the county.

"The people we've got weren't hired because they worked on a project and I wanted them to work on that project for me," Dwoskin said. "We want bright people who understand developmental procedures."

Dwoskin said everybody benefits from the system: The employes "are making a normal career switch, we get a well-trained employe, and the county gets quality control on the applicant level."