President signs bill delaying STOCK Act provision

Friday - 9/28/2012, 12:08pm EDT

(Updated 2:45 p.m. to include the fact that President Barack Obama had signed the bill into law)

President Barack Obama signed into law Friday legislation delaying the implementation of controversial parts of the STOCK Act requiring the online posting of some federal employees' financial disclosure information.

In a pro forma session earlier in the day, the House approved the bill by unanimous consent, which the Senate did last week.

The bill delays until Dec. 8 the online posting of financial information for over 28,000 civil service employees, members of the Senior Executive Service and Congressional staffers required to fill out disclosure forms. It also calls for a study by the National Academy of Public Administration on the potential harm the online reporting requirements could cause.

The delay does not extend to the President, Vice President, Cabinet officials, members of Congress or candidates for office.

According to the legislation, the NAPA study will also look at how the current online availability of personal information has impacted feds. NAPA will issue a report six months after the act becomes law.

Prior to the bill being passed, some federal employees had expressed concern the online disclosures would endanger military officers and civilian employees by exposing them to the possibility of identity theft.

"Many federal employees have already received threats due to the nature of their work," said Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association, in an emailed statement. "It was critical for Congress to revisit the STOCK Act to strengthen protections for these employees and SEA is pleased to see that more time has been given to craft a sensible solution."

President Obama signed the STOCK Act into law April 4. It was originally passed to address concerns that members of Congress were exempt from insider trading laws. The bill included provisions adding executive branch employees to the financial disclosure requirement.

"New public disclosure requirements mandated by the STOCK Act will serve no purpose that we are aware of, will jeopardize the privacy and integrity afforded by [the] Ethics in Government Act system and, in our opinion, will hinder government performance in a number of ways," said SEA in a position paper released in June.

As originally enacted, the STOCK Act set a deadline of Aug. 31 for the first round of online postings, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) introduced a measure on Aug. 2 to delay the requirement for one month. It was quickly adopted by both houses of Congress and signed by the President.

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