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Confidential Financial Disclosure: A Powerful Tool to Prevent Conflicts of Interest

February 16, 2021

More than 26,000 of the most senior executive branch leaders file public financial disclosure reports detailing their holdings. But, you may wonder: What about the rest of the federal workforce who also are regularly at risk for conflicts? What about the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who in their day-to-day jobs award contracts, conduct investigations, administer grants, and review licensing applications? How can we know that these employees act in the public’s interest and are not influenced by their private financial holdings?

The solution is the confidential financial disclosure system, which allows ethics officials across the executive branch to regularly examine the financial holdings and arrangements of employees who have duties that pose a risk for conflict of interest.

Today, more than 350,000 confidential financial disclosure reports are due to be filed across the executive branch. Ethics officials review these reports and make sure steps are taken to resolve any possible conflicts of interest they uncover. Those steps might include selling stock, resigning from non-government employment, or staying out of certain government matters.

As ethics officials across the executive branch review these hundreds of thousands of reports, they serve to ensure that countless procurements, grants, licenses, investigations, rulemakings, and all sorts of other government matters go forward free from the harmful influence of conflicts of interest.

It is a big job. Every year it requires the efforts of nearly all of the 5,000+ officials who implement the ethics programs across the executive branch. It is important work, and we are grateful for their efforts to protect the integrity of our government.