5 CFR § 2634.603 - Custody of and access to public reports.

§ 2634.603 Custody of and access to public reports.

(a) Each agency must make available to the public in accordance with the provisions of this section those public reports filed with the agency by reporting individuals described under subpart B of this part.

(b) This section does not require public availability of those reports filed by:

(1) Any individual in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or the National Security Agency, or any individual engaged in intelligence activities in any agency of the United States, if the President finds or has found that, due to the nature of the office or position occupied by that individual, public disclosure of the report would, by revealing the identity of the individual or other sensitive information, compromise the national interest of the United States. Individuals referred to in this paragraph who are exempt from the public availability requirement may also be authorized, notwithstanding § 2634.701, to file any additional reports necessary to protect their identity from public disclosure, if the President finds or has found that such filings are necessary in the national interest; or

(2) An independent counsel whose identity has not been disclosed by the Court under 28 U.S.C chapter 40, or any person appointed by that independent counsel under such chapter.

(c) Each agency will, within 30 days after any public report is received by the agency, permit inspection of the report by, or furnish a copy of the report to, any person who makes written application as provided by agency procedure. Agency reviewing officials and the support staffs who maintain the files, the staff of the Office of Government Ethics, and Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who are conducting a criminal inquiry into possible conflict of interest violations need not submit an application. The agency may utilize Office of Government Ethics Form 201 for such applications. An application must state:

(1) The requesting person's name, occupation, and address;

(2) The name and address of any other person or organization on whose behalf the inspection or copy is requested; and

(3) That the requesting person is aware of the prohibitions on obtaining or using the report set forth in paragraph (f) of this section.

(d) Applications for the inspection of or copies of public reports will also be made available to the public throughout the period during which the report itself is made available, utilizing the procedures in paragraph (c) of this section.

(e) The agency may require a reasonable fee, established by agency regulation, to recover the direct cost of reproduction or mailing of a public report, excluding the salary of any employee involved. A copy of the report may be furnished without charge or at a reduced charge if the agency determines that waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest. The criteria used by an agency to determine when a fee will be reduced or waived will be established by regulation. Agency regulations contemplated by paragraph (e) of this section do not require approval pursuant to § 2634.103.

(f) It is unlawful for any person to obtain or use a public report:

(1) For any unlawful purpose;

(2) For any commercial purpose, other than by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public;

(3) For determining or establishing the credit rating of any individual; or

(4) For use, directly or indirectly, in the solicitation of money for any political, charitable, or other purpose.

Example 1:
The deputy general counsel of Agency X is responsible for reviewing the public financial disclosure reports filed by persons within that agency. The agency personnel director, who does not exercise functions within the ethics program, wishes to review the disclosure report of an individual within the agency. The personnel director must file an application to review the report. However, the supervisor of an official with whom the deputy general counsel consults concerning matters arising in the review process need not file such an application.
Example 2:
A state law enforcement agent is conducting an investigation which involves the private financial dealings of an individual who has filed a public financial disclosure report. The agent must complete a written application in order to inspect or obtain a copy.
Example 3:
A financial institution has received an application for a loan from an official which indicates her present financial status. The official has filed a public financial disclosure statement with her agency. The financial institution cannot be given access to the disclosure form for purposes of verifying the information contained on the application.


(1) Any public report filed with an agency or transmitted to the Director of the Office of Government Ethics under this section will be retained by the agency, and by the Office of Government Ethics when it receives a copy. The report will be made available to the public for a period of six years after receipt. After the six-year period, the report must be destroyed unless needed in an ongoing investigation, except that in the case of an individual who filed the report pursuant to § 2634.201(c) as a nominee and was not subsequently confirmed by the Senate, or who filed the report pursuant to § 2634.201(d) as a candidate and was not subsequently elected, the report, unless needed in an ongoing investigation, must be destroyed one year after the individual either is no longer under consideration by the Senate or is no longer a candidate for nomination or election to the Office of President or Vice President. See also the OGE/GOVT-1 Governmentwide executive branch Privacy Act system of records (available for inspection at the Office of Government Ethics or on OGE's website, www.oge.gov), as well as any applicable agency system of records.

(2) For purposes of paragraph (g)(1) of this section, in the case of a reporting individual with respect to whom a trust has been certified under subpart D of this part, a copy of the qualified trust agreement, the list of assets initially placed in the trust, and all other publicly available documents relating to the trust will be retained and made available to the public until the periods for retention of all other reports of the individual have lapsed under paragraph (g)(1) of this section.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control numbers 3209-0001 and 3209-0002)