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What is the STOCK Act? Why are SESers up in arms?

We are hearing a LOT of concern out there about the STOCK Act— the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act. This is the bill –– now law — designed to deal with lawmakers using an insider scoop from making money off of that information. Essentially, it makes insider trading by lawmakers illegal, which is a good thing, right?

But it didn’t stop there. The bill also requires that members of the Senior Executive Service post their financial disclosures online… and it broadens those financial disclosures. The Senior Executive Association has wrote a letter protesting the provision.

Should the SES be up in arms?

Bill Bransford is a partner at Shaw Bransford & Roth. He is also the General Counsel to the Senior Executives Association. Bill told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program why this new law is a problem for SESers.


Bill Bransford talks STOCK Act by cdorobek

The Senior Executive Association says:

  • Putting these disclosure forms on the Internet would appear to be “a gross violation of the spirit of the Privacy Act”
  • Supervisors could be subject to “unwarranted personal scrutiny by their subordinates, causing tension and problems in the workplace,”
  • Foreign interests, including terrorists, could get access to information on federal employees serving abroad.

So what do you think…does the STOCK Act go too far?

To listen to Bill’s full interview you can catch the full radio show at GovLoop Insights or your can subscribe to our itunes channel.

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7 Comments

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Profile Photo Doris Tirone

I don’t see this type of disclosure by public officials as “too much personal information”. The STOCK Act was enacted to prohibit members of Congress, their staffs and certain Executive Branch employees from trading on and realizing profit from nonpublic information obtained in their work and therefore, requires such officials to disclose any securities trades of more than $1,000 within 30 days of the transaction; it also compels such disclosures to be available electronically. Is this really a problem for the many or is it just a problem for the few?

We choose our careers and the venues in which we practice them. So, for those of us who believe this is too much personal information, perhaps a private sector position would be a better fit? That way, our financial disclosures would be dictated by fewer stockholders and lesser corporate requirements. The “public good” is the stockholder here and it is this stockholder’s expectation that it’s operating executives possess sufficient fiduciary integrity that they are comfortable disclosing their stock-trading activities; remember, stock trading is regulated by the “public corporation”! Let’s all thank Wall Street for the level of skepticism now evidenced quite publically by “stockholders”!

I think the bigger question is whether the Act will prevent (or even deter) future economic meltdowns?

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Profile Photo Andrew Krzmarzick

I’m not familiar with these kinds of disclosure laws in general – do employees in the financial sector have to disclose this kind of information publicly?

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Profile Photo Doris Tirone

Federal employees in certain positions are required by the Ethics in Government Act (EIGA), as amended, to file a confidential Financial Disclosure Form because of the responsibilities associated with their positions. The first report is due 30 days after entering a overed position; thereafter, employees are required to file annually. The purpose of filing financial disclosures is to prevent conflicts between employee duties and their private financial interests or affiliations.

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Profile Photo Tony Camilli

In my opinion the STOCK Act did not overstep any privacy boundaries for the SES Corps in the Federal government. First of all, the title of OGE Form 278 is “Public Financial Disclosure Report.” This title alone provides plenty of notice to SES members that their actions will be scrutinized by the Public. Lower Federal employees who are required to file OGE Form 450 get to do it confidentially, so being an SES member has its privileges and drawbacks.

Secondly, the STOCK Act really only gave transparency to the publishing of all OGE Form 278s online, which prior to this law were kept locked up at the OGE and therefore were not “Public” by any means as one needed to make a FOIA request with the OGE to get this information. Has anyone here made a FOIA request lately? Not an easy process …

While SES-types may feel they were lumped in with some bad actors in Congress, I would ask why are they concerned? No infractions = no concern in my book. The SEA makes some good points about the cost of compliance in implementing the STOCK Act, but that’s the price we pay for a good democratic government. To paraphrase a very famous Supreme Court Justice – transparency is the best tool to protect against fraud. The STOCK Act is just one tool to accomplish this laudible goal.

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Profile Photo Jason

I love it! — “Supervisors could be subject to ‘unwarranted personal scrutiny by their subordinates, causing tension and problems in the workplace’,”

Give me strength! There’s already tension and problems in the workplace because of the special and often unwarranted treatment SES types get. Period.

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