An official is someone who holds an office (function or mandate, regardless whether it carries an actual working space with it) in an organization or government and participates in the exercise of authority (either his own or that of his superior and/or employer, public or legally private). A government official or functionary is an official who is involved in public administration or government, through either election, appointment, selection, or employment. A bureaucrat or civil servant is a member of the bureaucracy. An elected official is a person who is an official by virtue of an election. Officials may also be appointed ex officio (by virtue of another office, often in a specified capacity, such as presiding, advisory, secretary). Some official positions may be inherited. A person who currently holds an office is referred to as an incumbent.
- Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperilled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously.
- Louis D. Brandeis, dissenting, Olmstead et al. v. United States, 277 U.S. 485 (1928).
- It is undoubtedly the business of ministers very much to consult the inclinations of the people, but they ought to take great care that they do not receive that inclination from the few persons who may happen to approach them.
- Edmund Burke, "Letters on a Regicide Peace," letter 3, 1796–1797, The Works of the Right Honorable Edmund Burke (1899), vol. 5, p. 431.