White House Adds Web Access to Personal Financial Disclosures


Sunlight has long advocated for online disclosure of Personal Financial Disclosure Forms (PFDs) of political appointees subject to Senate confirmation.

Until recently, the White House offered only a static chart of appointees, with their positions, and dates confirmed, while the Office of Government Ethics offered a similar chart. Neither offered online access to the PFD statement, but the OGE page did offer this:

The following individuals have been nominated or appointed by President Obama with the advice and consent of the Senate to the offices indicated. Their Public Financial Disclosure Reports (SF 278) and Ethics Agreements may be obtained by completing OGE Form 201, “Request to Inspect or Receive Copies of SF 278s or Other Covered Records” (2006) (Electronically Fillable PDF Version of OGE Form 201) (PDF)

This PDF version of the form has been programmed to be filled in electronically through the use of the Adobe®Reader 6.0 or above and then printed. The Adobe Reader is freely available from the Adobe Web Site.

To access the financial disclosure forms of high level Presidential appointees, one had to find the OGE page, and then submit a form via mail to receive copies.

Not anymore.

The White House has set up a new online request process. This page now moves the request process entirely online, allowing anyone to request a copy of the PFD, and even receive their copy via email.

This is a significant improvement, and lowers the barrier to effective disclosure of essential financial information.

Ultimately, the White House should move beyond a request-based system, and affirmatively post the financial disclosure forms, with any necessary redactions. While this may take a more significant rewriting of the Federal Regulations and Executive Orders that set up the high level financial disclosure system, it would be worthwhile. 21st Century disclosure shouldn’t include certifications of use.

In any case, the online submission form is a significant improvement, and should be applauded.