May 12, 2020
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Annual Financial Disclosure Frequently Asked Questions (2020)
May 15 is the deadline for annual public financial disclosure filers to file their reports with their employing agencies, unless an extension has been granted. Copies of reports filed by presidential appointees requiring Senate confirmation and designated agency ethics officials (DAEOs) are forwarded to OGE for a second-level review and public release after they are reviewed and certified by the employing agency’s ethics office. Public reports available from OGE can be accessed here. A list of agency ethics contacts for requesting reports directly from the employing agencies can be found here.
To assist the public in accessing and understanding these reports, OGE has developed these Frequently Asked Questions.
Q. How will the disruptions resulting from the novel COVID-19 pandemic affect filing of public financial disclosures?
The COVID-19 pandemic will have no effect on who is required to file, nor on the information that is required to be reported on public financial disclosures and OGE has not changed the deadline for public financial disclosure reports.
OGE has issued guidance to agency ethics officials reminding them of their ability to grant extensions of up to a total of 90 days where conditions warrant. OGE regulations allow ethics officials in the agency where a filer works to, for good cause shown, grant the filer an extension of up to 45 days. Additionally, these agency ethics officials may grant an additional extension of up to 45 days.
You can see OGE’s latest guidance here (.pdf).
Q. Who files annual public financial disclosure reports and where do they file their reports?
There are approximately 26,000 public financial disclosure filers who are comprised of:
- the President and the Vice President;
- officers and employees in positions that have a rate of basic pay equal to or greater than 120% of the minimum rate of basic pay for GS-15 of the General Schedule;
- administrative law judges;
- employees in positions which are excepted from the competitive service because of their confidential or policy-making character;
- the Postmaster General, the Deputy Postmaster General;
- the Director of the Office of Government Ethics and each agency Designated Agency Ethics Official; and
- civilian employees in the Executive Office of the President (other than special Government employees) who hold commissions of appointment from the President.
The financial disclosure reports are filed with the official’s employing agency.
Q. When will the annual public financial disclosure reports of the President and the Vice President be available?
The White House has granted the President and the Vice President 45-day extensions. Their reports are now due June 29, 2020. You can read the memo here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/2020-Financial-Disclosure-Extension-Memo.pdf
OGE will tweet when the annual reports of the President and the Vice President are posted on OGE’s website.
Q. When can I get annual public financial disclosure reports?
Unless an extension is granted, public filers must file their annual reports by May 15 and agencies must make the reports available within 30 days of receipt. See the “2020 Schedule of Important Ethics Dates (pdf)” on OGE’s Dates and Deadlines page.The deadline for filing annual reports can be extended by the appropriate ethics official for up to 90 days (to August 15).
Agencies must review reports within 60 days of receiving them and, if no additional information or remedy is required, agencies must also certify the reports before the 60-day period expires.
Public financial disclosure reports that are also reviewed by OGE must be forwarded by agencies to OGE promptly once the agencies certify the reports. Those reports are available from OGE 30 days after receipt or after OGE closes the reports (i.e., certifying or declining to certify).
Q. Which reports are available on OGE’s website?
OGE receives about 1,100 of the approximately 26,000 public financial disclosure reports filed by officials in the executive branch. OGE only reviews the reports for presidential appointees in positions requiring Senate confirmation, certain White House appointees, and the most senior ethics official at each agency. (OGE has a spreadsheet listing positions which file with OGE available on the Public Financial Disclosure FAQ page). The remaining approximately 25,000 public financial disclosure reports are available from the official’s agency.
Q. How can I access the reports that are available on OGE’s website and the reports that are available from agencies?
For filers at Executive Pay Levels I and II (the highest-level 67 presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed positions, including Cabinet secretaries), annual reports are available on OGE’s website once OGE has closed the report. You can access these reports by clicking on “President and Vice President” or “Cabinet secretaries and other government agency heads” on OGE’s Open Government page here.
The other more than 1,100 reports filed with OGE (e.g., presidential appointees confirmed by the Senate, senior White House personnel, and designated agency ethics officials) are available after OGE has closed them and after a requestor submits a completed OGE Form 201, as required by the Ethics in Government Act. You can access these reports by clicking on “Senior White House personnel and other top senior government officials” on OGE’s Open Government page and then submitting a completed OGE Form 201.
To request one of the remaining more than 25,000 public financial disclosure reports filed by executive branch officials, but not required to be reviewed by OGE, you must complete an OGE Form 201 and submit it to the official’s employing agency. You can see where to submit the OGE Form 201 to agencies in the updated list of Agency Ethics Program Contact Information available on OGE’s Open Government page.
Q. Why are some reports readily available on OGE’s website while I have to file a request form for other reports?
The Ethics in Government Act, as amended, specifies which public financial disclosure reports are publicly posted and which must be released subject to a request process. Reports submitted by the President and Vice President and reports submitted by filers at Executive Pay Levels I and II are publicly posted on OGE’s website. Requesters must complete and submit an OGE Form 201 to OGE or to an official’s employing agency, respectively, for the other reports filed with OGE or the remaining public financial disclosure reports filed by executive branch officials, but not reviewed by OGE.
Q. How can I learn about financial transactions made by senior government officials since December 31, 2019?
Filers of public financial disclosure reports are also required to file Periodic Transaction Reports (PTRs) when they make certain kinds of financial transactions such as buying or selling stock.
Unless an extension is granted, PTRs are required to be filed with the employing agency no later than 45 days after the transaction occurs. If requested using the OGE Form 201, agencies are required to make these reports available 30 days after they are filed with the agency whether the PTR has been certified or not. The 201 form and points of contact for making these requests can be found here: https://www.oge.gov/web/oge.nsf/about_ethics-contact-list
For officials who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, PTRs are forwarded to OGE after agency certification for second-level review and certification. Those reports are available from OGE 30 days after receipt or after OGE closes the reports (i.e., certifying or declining to certify). You can find these reports here: https://www.oge.gov/web/OGE.nsf/Open+Government