4.07: Public Availability of Reports
5 U.S.C. app. § 105; 5 C.F.R. § 2634.603
Almost all OGE Form 278e and OGE Form 278-T reports are available to the public under the Ethics in Government Act.
Period of Public Availability
Start of Public Availability Period
Candidate, New Entrant, Nominee, Termination, and Periodic Transaction reports must be made available to the public within 30 days of receipt. Annual reports must be made available to the public within 30 days of receipt or May 15 of the filing year, whichever is later.
A report must be made available by the date specified above, regardless of whether the agency has reviewed or certified the report.
End of Public Availability Period
Reports are publicly available for 6 years after receipt. As an exception to this rule, the Nominee reports of individuals whom the Senate did not confirm are releasable for only one year after the individual is no longer under Senate consideration. In addition, a Periodic Transaction report (OGE Form 278-T) is releasable until the related subsequent Annual or Termination report (OGE Form 278e) has passed its period of availability.
Reports may not be released after the period of public availability has passed even if the agency has not yet destroyed the report. See the “Records Management” section for information concerning the disposition schedule for reports and supporting materials.
Requesting a Report
Any person or entity that wishes to inspect or obtain a copy of a public financial disclosure report must submit a written request to the relevant agency stating:
- the requestor’s name, occupation, and address;
- the name and address of any other person or organization on whose behalf the inspection or copy is requested; and
- that the requestor is aware of the prohibitions on obtaining or using the report (listed below).
These requirements do not apply for reports filed by the President, the Vice President, and any officer occupying a position listed in section 5312 or section 5313 of title 5, United States Code, having been nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate to that position.
OGE has developed a standardized application form, the OGE Form 201, for use by those requesting to inspect or obtain a copy of an OGE Form 278e or OGE Form 278-T.
Request Process - OGE
To inspect or obtain a copy of a report that is reviewed by OGE, interested persons should access the electronic request system on OGE’s website.
Request Process - Agencies
To inspect or obtain a copy of a report that is not reviewed by OGE, interested persons should submit a written application to the filer’s agency’s ethics office.
Restrictions on Public Availability
Reports filed by certain persons engaged in intelligence activities are exempt from release. Also, in certain unusual circumstances, the Director of OGE may exempt an SGE’s public financial disclosure report from release. See “Individuals Required to File” for additional information.
Restrictions on the Use of the OGE Form 278e and OGE Form 278-T
No OGE Form 278e or OGE Form 278-T may be used for:
- any unlawful purpose;
- any commercial purpose, except by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public;
- determining or establishing a credit rating; or
- direct or indirect use in the solicitation of money for any purpose, including political and charitable purposes.
Agencies must require those who wish to examine or obtain a copy of a report to sign a statement that the agency has informed the requestor of these restrictions. The Attorney General may bring a civil action against anyone who uses or obtains a report for these prohibited purposes.
Other Releasable Documents
In addition to OGE Form 278e and OGE Form 278-T reports, members of the public may request certain other documents by means of the OGE Form 201 or other written application. These records are: (1) certificates of divestiture; (2) Ethics in Government Act qualified blind trust and qualified diversified trust instruments (other than those provisions which relate to the testamentary disposition of the trust assets), the list of assets transferred to such trusts (and of assets sold in the case of a qualified blind trust), as well as, in the case of trust dissolution, the report thereon and the list of trust assets at that time, and the certificates of independence and compliance with respect to qualified trusts; (3) 18 U.S.C. §§ 208(b)(1) & (b)(3) waivers granted by the recipient agency (after deletion of any material withholdable pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (see 18 U.S.C. § 208(d)(1)); (4) other OGE Form 201s; (5) cover letters for approved gifts reporting waiver requests; and (6) cover letters for approved public reporting waiver requests for certain less than 130-day special Government employees.
Requests for other documents would be made under the Freedom of Information Act.
Notifying Filers of Requests for their Reports
No law or OGE regulation requires agencies to inform filers of requests for access to their OGE Form 278e and OGE Form 278-T reports. Filers desiring to know whether a member of the public has requested their OGE Form 278e or OGE Form 278-T may, the same as any member of the public, request a copy of all applications to inspect their reports. All applications to inspect an OGE Form 278e or OGE Form 278-T are available to the public for the period when the OGE Form 278e or OGE Form 278-T itself is available to the public.
Intra-Governmental Access to Reports
Certain Government officials may access reports in their official capacities without formal application:
- agency ethics officials and support staff who maintain the files for such reports if the report was filed with (1) their own agency, (2) at another agency if the filer is transferring from one covered position to another, or (3) at another agency if the filer served at the ethics official’s agency during the reporting period and the ethics official is conducting an intermediate review;
- OGE staff; and
- Special Agents of the FBI and U.S. Attorneys conducting a criminal investigation into possible conflict of interest violations.
Additional disclosures that may be made are listed in the Privacy Act notice in the instructions to the OGE Form 278e and the OGE Form 278-T.