STOCK Act: Congress Comes to Its Senses and Repeals Financial Information Internet Publication Requirements

By John Bellinger
Sunday, April 14, 2013, 10:53 PM

Last Thursday and Friday, the Senate and House respectively passed legislation providing that Sections 8 and 11 of the STOCK Act, which would have required publication on the Internet of the financial disclosure forms of senior military officers, senior executive branch officials, and congressional staff, "shall not be effective."   President Obama presumably will sign the legislation within a few days.

This non-implementation provision does not apply to the President, Vice President, Members and candidates for Congress, and executive branch officials in Executive Levels I or II positions (Cabinet Secretaries and Deputies), whose financial disclosure forms will continue to be required to be posted.

The legislation reverses one of the more imprudent laws Congress has passed in recent years.   Last year, a group of 14 senior national security officials, including myself, wrote to Congressional leaders to express grave concern that the Internet publication requirement would threaten the national security and the safety and privacy of the individuals subject to the requirement.   Congress then delayed implementation of the Internet publication provisions and ordered the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) to study the effects of the law.  Last month, NAPA concluded that the law would do more harm than good and recommended that it be indefinitely suspended.

Congress should never have passed the original misguided legislation, and President Obama should not have signed it over the objections of executive branch departments.   But Congressional staff in the leadership offices in both the House and Senate should now be commended for coming together, in a rare display of bipartisanship, to help Congress rectify its error.