3/23/12: Yesterday, the Senate passed the House version of the STOCK Act to enhance transparency by elected officials and senior government executives. The legislation has been modified to accommodate privacy concerns NTEU raised for bargaining unit employees concerning the publication of their OGE Form 450 information to the public.
The STOCK Act was originially proposed in response to concerns about insider stock trading by members of Congress. Both the House and Senate original versions of this bill included a provision to compel all trade and holdings disclosures by Congress and senior officials to be available on a searchable, public database. In February, due to an amendment from Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), this disclosure requirement was broadened in the first Senate version to cover thousands more lower level federal employees, including SEC bargaining unit employees who file an Office of Government Ethics Form 450. Under the 1978 Ethics in Government Act, high-level federal appointees must make their financial disclosures public, while a much larger group of lower level employees must disclose confidentially to their agency ethics officer using the Form 450.
NTEU communicated with key Senate leaders about the Union's views on the STOCK Act. The Union's concern was that the original Senate version included the provision putting the OGE Form 450 filings on a searchable, public database. Over 350,000 federal employees file this form, including most bargaining unit employees at the SEC. NTEU believes that this would have gone too far, to publish on the internet the personal information on this form.
We are pleased to report that the new version passed by the Senate yesterday reduces the number of Executive Branch employees subject to the internet database from 350,000 to only 28,000 senior officials. SEC Form 450 filers will not be subject to publication on a searchable internet database.
The bill in its improved version will now go to the President for his signature.