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Congress halts online posting of executives’ financial forms

Apr. 12, 2013 - 01:25PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association.
Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association. (Rob Curtis / Staff)

Congress approved legislation Friday that blocks the Internet posting of the personal financial disclosure statements of thousands of federal executives.

The bill, which unanimously sailed through the Senate on Thursday, won House approval Friday. If signed as expected by President Obama, it would halt the online posting requirement set to take effect April 15 for all but elected officials, congressional candidates and top political appointees.

Under a law passed last year, Congress had required online posting of the annual disclosure statements filed by as many as 28,000 federal employees and senior military officers. But in a report released last month by the National Academy of Public Administration, an independent panel warned of possible national security and law enforcement concerns. Among the panel’s fears: that employees assigned overseas or engaged in law enforcement work could be put at risk by making information on their assets and holdings so readily available. The statements, known as Office of Government Ethics Forms 278, are already public but are typically available only in paper form in response to a written request.

Among those opposing online disclosure is the Senior Executives Association, which represents career Senior Executive Service members and is a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the requirement on Privacy Act grounds.

“In the interest of ensuring that government works effectively, which includes safeguarding employees’ sensitive information, this was the right decision,” SEA President Carol Bonosaro said in a news release after Friday’s House vote.

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