Congress gave final approval Friday morning to a bill delaying until early December the online posting of thousands of senior federal employees' personal financial disclosure reports. Sen. Joseph Lieberman introduced the legislation. (Getty Images)
President Obama signed a bill Friday that delays until early December the online posting of thousands of senior federal employees’ personal financial disclosure reports.
Under the legislation, which received final congressional approval earlier in the day, the postings will be delayed until Dec. 8, according to a spokeswoman for its sponsor, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn. The bill also directs 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 disclosure reports on the Internet.
The Senate approved the measure Sept. 22. Because the House is now meeting only in token “pro forma” sessions while Congress is on break, supporters used a fast-track procedure to win final passage Friday.
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 Sept. 30, 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 the Senior Executives Association.
Many federal employees have already received work-related threats, SEA President Carol Bonosaro said in a news release Friday. The delay now gives Congress more time to “craft a sensible solution” for strengthening protections for those workers, she said.
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 bill, NAPA would have six months to complete its study. In an email, Leslie Phillips, Lieberman’s spokeswoman, said that lawmakers could approve additional delays to the online posting requirement until the study is finished.
Online posting begins 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.