Man giving a speech at a conference


“Honorarium” means a payment or something of economic value given to a public official in exchange for services upon which custom or propriety prevents the setting of a price. Services include speeches. ORS 244.020 

Food, beverage, travel and lodging expenses for a speaking engagement or presentation are not generally considered honoraria.

With some exceptions, a public official may not ask for or accept honoraria for performing official duties.

Exception: The “honorarium” rule does not prohibit receiving a certificate, plaque, commemorative token or other item with a value of $50 or less.

Exception: The “honorarium” rule does not prohibit receiving payment for services performed in relation to the private occupation or expertise of the public official.

In other words, you can’t receive an honorarium to perform “official duties” such as giving a talk that UO requires you to give (essentially, you can't be paid by both UO and an outside entity for doing the same work), but you can receive an honorarium for giving a talk related to your private expertise.

What are considered "official duties?"  If it is listed in your position description, or is something that your supervisor asked you to do, then it may be part of your official duties.  It could also be part of your official duties if you are explicitly asked to attend on behalf of, or as a representative of, UO.  It's a good idea to let your supervisor know about opportunities you've been offered.  Your supervisor should be able to help you identify whether a commitment that may involve honoraria would be considered part of your official duties or not.

You may also want to check out the guidance on inviting public officials to events.

Example: You are a UO professor with expertise in X.  You've just published a book on the subject and Harvard has invited you to Cambridge to give a lecture.  They will reimburse for your travel costs, and they've offered to pay you $2,000 for the speaking engagement.

Can you accept the money?  Yes. The lecture is in relation to your expertise.  You would have been invited to give the lecture whether you were a faculty member at the University of Oregon, or any other university.

Example:  You fundraise for UO.  You've been asked to participate on a panel at a conference of other fundraising professionals about UO's fundraising campaign (what has worked well, lessons learned, etc.). Assume UO covers your registration fee and will reimburse you for your travel expenses.  When you arrive at the conference, there's a gift basket in your room (and the rooms of all panelists) with a nice bottle of wine and a gift certificate for $100.00 to the hotel spa. 

Can you accept the gift basket?  No.  This would be honoraria received for a talk related to your UO duties.  Note that it does not matter that the basket is not considered a "gift" under the ethics rules (because the conference does not have a legislative or administrative interest in the decisions you make at UO).  

Example: A dean of a college also has a management role in a private corporation where she gets compensated for public speaking.  Her UO employment contract authorizes the receipt of outside compensation so long as she complies with the university’s conflicts of interest policy. 

Can she accept compensation for this outside work? Yes, if authorized in writing by the university. However, there may be reasons the university cannot authorize this compensation, such as if it presents a conflict of commitment.