About 11,000 high-ranking federal officials will begin filing detailed personal financial disclosure statements tomorrow under the Ethics in Government law enacted last year.
Though the statements are due tomorrow, liberal delays of weeks or months are expected to be granted because of the new process.
Eventually the public will have access to all the information except for statements filed by such employes as undercover intelligence agents.
The mass filing is the most comprehensive financial disclosure in the history of federal government. In the past, only a few hundred federal employes had disclosed anything publicly.
Under the new act, anyone being paid $44,700 or more must reveal a broad array of facts about himself or herself, including the sources of all outside income, significant assets and liabilities, the origin of honoraria, large gifts or valuable freebies, and all positions in any private business venture.
One of the more controversial provisions also requires a limited disclosure of the financial interests of the spouse and minor children of the government employe.
The disclosure requirements were part of an ethics package that also created a procedure for establishing special prosecutors and placed stringent constraints on employment after government service. Those constraints are now being amended to prevent a mass exodus of lawyers and scientists from the government.
The law also created a new Office of Government Ethics, headed by Bernhardt Wruble, formerly deputy counsel to the Department of the Army.
Wruble estimated that roughly 11,000 persons would have to file disclosures with ethics offices designated by each government agency.
Under the law, the disclosures are to be made public within 15 days of filing. Ethics "officers" are supposed to review each disclosure for compliance with the law.
The disclosure law penetrates more deeply into the bureaucracy than any previous voluntary system. In the White House, for example, only the 10 or 12 most senior officials have made public disclosures so far.
According to deputy White House counsel Milchael Cardozo, about 59 presidential aides must file under the new act.