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Senate backs STOCK Act delay

Sep. 24, 2012 - 05:35PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments

The Senate on Saturday approved a bill that would delay the posting online of thousands of senior federal employees’ personal financial disclosure statements.

A spokeswoman for the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., said Monday the postings would be delayed until Dec. 8. The bill would also require the National Academy of Public Administration to study the potential risks — both to national security and to the safety of affected federal employees and military officers — of putting the annual reports online.

The Senate unanimously approved the measure early Saturday morning. The bill’s House backers hope to pass it in one of the pro-forma sessions the chamber is holding while Congress is on recess.

The online posting requirement is part of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which Obama signed in April. It was to take effect at the end of this month, but — in response to a lawsuit filed by the Senior Executives Association and other plaintiffs — a federal judge recently issued an injunction barring implementation until Oct. 31. Earlier this year, more than a dozen former national security officials warned that online posting could threaten “the personal safety and financial security” of career employees. About 7,000 career Senior Executive Service members would fall under the new requirement, along with military general and flag officers, according to the Office of Government Ethics and SEA.

The disclosure reports, known as Office of Government Ethics Form 278s, are already public, but agencies generally release them only in paper form in response to a written request. Under the Senate bill, NAPA would have six months to complete its study. In an e-mail, Lieberman spokeswoman Leslie Phillips said that online posting could be further delayed until the study is finished. Online posting will start Sept. 30 for the president, vice president, members of Congress, candidates for Congress, and Cabinet-level and other appointees whose jobs require Senate confirmation, she said.

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