We can't have the fox guarding the chicken house. And we can't have the guard dog switching sides to run off with his wild cousins, either.

Lawmakers figured this out about themselves a few years ago when they put a cooling-off period in place before North Carolina legislators who left office could work as lobbyists. While "never" might be an even better qualifier, that's a big improvement over the revolving door we used to see in Raleigh.

State Auditor Beth Wood has warned legislators that some back doors to state government also were going in a circle. Specifically, information technology specialists have been forsaking the employment of North Carolina's taxpayers and going to work for the very contractors with whom they negotiated complex data systems in the interest of taxpayers.

Given woes with those systems lately, Wood's warning is timely. It hasn't fallen on deaf ears, either. Legislators are working on a measure to rein in this practice.

Rep. Marvin Lucas, a Cumberland County Democrat, noted similarity to the situation that existed for lawmakers. "It seems to me that we need to address some additional care in not allowing folks who are working for us (to go) out the door to become vendors," he said.

With lawmakers drafting language now, the measure appears to have bipartisan support. More important, it makes sense.

©2014 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)