Financial Disclosure (Public Officers Law §73-a)
The Ethics in Government Act of 1987, as amended, imposes a financial disclosure requirement on any state employee serving in a job title with an annual salary exceeding $101,379 (effective April 1, 2019). The required statutory form is available in electronic (e-file) format and as a downloadable PDF. Financial disclosure statements are filed directly with the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE).
Under Section §73-a of the Public Officers Law, certain “state persons” are required to file an annual statement of financial disclosure (FDS). An FDS is a publicly available record containing information about financial holdings and professional associations of the filer and his or her spouse. The purpose is to provide transparency in order to prevent conflicts of interest and abuses of official position and to help the filer identify and manage potential conflicts of interest.
- Academic employees of the university must file the financial disclosure statement with the commission by November 15 each year. Employees may request a filing extension or an exemption directly on JCOPE’s website or by printing out the application and mailing it in. Requests must be received by the November 15 filing deadline. The status of the request can be tracked online. The information required is for the calendar year preceding the November 15 deadline unless otherwise specifically asked in the question. Forms and instructions are available at JCOPE.
- There is no exemption from filing for anyone who is (a) away from work for any part of the calendar year or (b) working a reduced work schedule. It is the job rate of the position in which the employee serves as of April 1 of the year in which the form is due, and not the actual compensation received during the previous calendar year, that determines whether an individual is subject to the financial disclosure requirements. For further information, please use the commission’s Advisory Opinions to refer to Advisory Opinion No. 05-2.
- Please note that failure to file or filing late may result in late fees, fines up to $40,000, and publication of the names of delinquent filers on the commission’s website (under Notices of Delinquency).
The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics regulations set limits on the amount of honoraria state employees and officers can receive and defines an honorarium as:
- Any payment, which may take the form of a fee or other compensation, made to a covered person in consideration for a service performed that is not part of his or her official duties. Such service includes delivering a speech, writing or publishing an article, or participating in any public or private conference, convention, meeting, or similar event. An honorarium shall also include expenses incurred for travel, lodging, and meals related to the service performed.
- An honorarium shall not mean a payment provided to a covered person who provides services for or acts on behalf of an employee organization certified or recognized under Article 14 of the Civil Service Law to represent such covered person.
The key is that the service for which an honorarium is received is not job-related.
Honoraria must be approved by the individual’s approving authority. At Purchase College, the approving authority is the director of human resources. Faculty members are exempt from requesting approval for honoraria in advance, provided that the service they perform is within the subject matter of their official academic or research discipline. If the service to be performed for an honorarium is not within the subject matter of your official academic or research discipline, you need to seek permission in advance to perform the service. Requests for permission should be made in writing to the director of human resources and include the following:
- Identity of the person or the person’s business offering the honorarium
- A detailed description of the service for which the honorarium is offered, including the date and location where the service will be performed
- The amount of the honorarium and, if applicable, an itemization of amounts paid for the service, attendance, registration, travel, lodging, and meals
An employee who is performing a service for an honorarium may not use state personnel, equipment, and time to prepare for this service. No state funds can be used to pay for the employee’s attendance, registration, travel, lodging, or meal expenses. If the service to be performed is during the person’s normal workday, he or she must charge leave time (other than sick) to perform the service. Performing honoraria must not violate Public Officers Law §74.
If the honorarium is from an interested source, the following criteria must be met: Looking at the totality of the circumstances, it is not reasonable to infer that the honoraria is intended/expected to influence the person or intended as a reward for an official action. JCOPE defines “interested source” as “a person or entity that has certain dealings or involvement with an individual’s agency. This includes vendors, lobbyists, and other persons or entities that do business with, have matter before, or have received or applied for funds from, an individual’s agency. It also includes entitles that are regulated by an individual’s agency.”
If an honorarium received is more than $1,000, it must be reported on Question 13 of the financial disclosure statement for required filers.
If you have any questions, you can visit the commission’s website at www.jcope.ny.gov or call the commission at (518) 408-3976.