Senior executives reopen debate over STOCK Act

SeanPavonePhoto / Shutterstock.com

Two weeks after President Obama signed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, leaders of the Senior Executives Association have written congressional oversight leaders requesting repeal of two provisions requiring federal employees to disclose financial information, calling them “burdensome, complex and, most important, unnecessarily invasive of personal privacy.” At least one recipient may be willing to look at the issue more closely.

Carol A. Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association, and William Bransford, SEA general counsel, on April 13 addressed their complaints to the chairmen and ranking members of the House Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees. They said some of the law’s provisions “are detrimental to career senior executives and, as we had previously warned, these intrusive requirements are already having a chilling effect on the recruitment and retention of career executives,” including those in senior-level and scientific and professional positions.

The STOCK Act seeks to clarify an ambiguity in the 1934 Securities and Exchange Act by prohibiting members of Congress and their staffs from trading on information they obtain from their work that is not available to the general public. During congressional deliberations, its scope was expanded to include some 28,000 federal executives, and SEA has been opposed to it all along.

The letters specifically cited Sections 6 of the law, which requires senior executives to file a report “not later than 30 days after receiving notification of a completed financial transaction,” and 11(b), which requires the Office of Government Ethics “to create a public database of financial disclosure reports filed by executive branch employees.” according to the SEA leaders.

“Senior executives could easily fall afoul of the rule without realizing they have done so,” the letters stated. “Many career senior executives use financial advisers or portfolio managers, because, they, like most Americans, do not have time to monitor the constant gyrations of the modern stock market. If a senior executive does use a financial adviser or portfolio manager, he or she might not get word of individual financial transactions within the 30-day window, or have the ability to receive the necessary information to make reports on individual transactions.”

The requirement for a public database, the executives warned, will violate rights to privacy and pose a risk that “supervisors within a federal agency could be subject to unwarranted personal scrutiny by their subordinates, causing tension and problems in the workplace. Many executives are concerned about the very real possibility of identity theft.”

The law also introduces new requirements for disclosure of information on spouses’ and dependent children’s finances. That information, though not planned to be made available on a public website, could be accessed by members of the public filing a request.

The executives warned that association members have expressed concern the STOCK Act will “jeopardize their ability to plan effectively for retirement.”

Few on Capitol Hill responded to inquiries as to the prospects for repeal. A House staffer noted the original House version did not include provisions covering the federal employees, and the expansion was advanced by Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. Neither would comment, nor would representatives of most lawmakers to whom the letter was addressed: Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said he “has always been concerned that some provisions applying to the Senior Executive Service may be overly broad, and he is open to closer examination of the problem.”

(Image via SeanPavonePhoto/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.