The Washington Post

Out of Stock: Foreign Service members want out of Stock Act

Add the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) to the federal employee organizations that want out of the Stock Act.


The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (Stock) Act, which became law in April, is designed to prohibit members and employees of Congress from using insider information that could affect stock prices, for example, for personal gain.

The provisions of the law also apply to other federal employees who file publicly available financial disclosure forms.

AFSA said those disclosures could threaten personal and national security.

“Foreign Service personnel often serve in posts where kidnapping for ransom is a real and growing danger,” said an AFSA statement. “Making personal financial information publicly available provides criminal organizations information that makes it easier to target members of the Foreign Service and their families.”

The financial disclosure system in place before the Stock Act “balances the need for government transparency with a layer of protection against criminal organizations and foreign intelligence services,” according to AFSA.

AFSA President Susan Johnson said “decision-makers on Capitol Hill will hopefully recognize that this unintended exposure presents a genuine risk and will consequently seek a remedy which modifies the requirement for online posting.”

The Assembly of Scientists and the Senior Executives Association, which also represent federal employees, previously raised concerns about the impact of the law on their members.

“We believe that this indiscriminate disclosure puts filers at the mercy of anyone who wishes to harm or defraud us or our families,” the Assembly said in a letter to Congress. “Many senior employees, faced with diminished privacy rights, are discussing leaving the government for the private sector. Colleagues at universities are concerned and less likely to accept positions at national laboratories, thereby putting U.S. institutions at a disadvantage in recruiting and retaining the nation’s most prominent and creative scientists.”

Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at Follow the Federal Diary on Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.


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