The Latin phrase “ex officio” loosely translates to “from the office” and refers to an individual who is given a position by virtue of the office he or she holds. The phrase intends to mean “by right of office” and is used in antecedent to a position, such as ex officio member.
Committees or groups usually require something before an individual can gain membership. However, a person may become a member simply because of the office or position he or she holds. Thus, he or she becomes ex officio. For example, a president of a company may become an ex officio member of a committee under his or her company because he or she is the president and is automatically included as a member of such a committee formed under his or her office.
The use of an ex officio is historically grounded in the Roman times, which is also the origin of the Latin term. Those who are titled ex officio are given positions of responsibility that an individual may have been elected into in the first place. Individuals who are ex officio are not given any special privileges or rights. They must conform to all the laws, bylaws, and statutes that come with the responsibility of such a position. It is significant to note that bylaws are usually the mechanism that limit and control the actions taken by those who are ex officio. Bylaws can determine the responsibilities and limitations of ex officio positions and are most crucial to follow when in ex officio.