OMB Director Mulvaney Should Investigate Trump for Violating OMB Data Disclosure Policy

Since Mulvaney Says He Takes ‘Data Security Very, Very Seriously,’ He Should Investigate Trump’s Tweet Which Appears to Violate Data Disclosure Rules

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, consumer advocacy organization Allied Progress called on OMB Director Mick Mulvaney to investigate President Trump’s apparent violation of OMB data disclosure rules which specifically prohibit “employees of the Executive Branch” from commenting publicly on data until at least one hour after the official release time. Trump tweeted about this month’s jobs numbers before they were made public, a move that could have significant impact on the stock market and other aspects of the economy.

The request comes one day after Mulvaney announced he would resume the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) data collection efforts, noting experts deemed CFPB systems “‘well-secured.'” When he froze such collection in December saying he took “data security very, very seriously,” many saw the move as an attack on the bureau’s ability to enforce laws protecting consumers from financial bad actors. Mulvaney even hired a hacker to try and find a way to criticize the CFPB’s data security.

After showing such zeal for data security at the CFPB, will he have the courage to do the same with his boss in the White House?

The CFPB’s data collection efforts have been on Mulvaney’s chopping block since President Trump appointed him in November. Under the guise of concern over data security, Mulvaney even hired a hacker to try and find a way to criticize the bureau’s effort. After all, he knows if he can shut CFPB data collection down, the bureau’s enforcement of consumer protection laws would grind to a halt and his powerful Wall Street friends would be left to run wild,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress.

He continued, “Mulvaney says he takes data security ‘very, very, seriously,’ but does he have the guts, as OMB Director, to investigate President Trump for violating OMB data disclosure rules? I doubt we’ll see him holding his boss to the same extreme standards that have guided his single-minded pursuit to destroy the CFPB. That would require more ethical consistence than Mulvaney has to offer.”

What You Need To Know

  • Late last year, Mick Mulvaney froze CFPB data collection, saying he took “data security very, very seriously.” In December 2017, Mick Mulvaney froze the CFPB’s data collection processes, citing cybersecurity concerns. At the time, Mulvaney claimed he took “‘data security very, very seriously,’” and that the CFPB needed “‘as rigorous a data-security program as possible'” before it could expect similar security measures from the financial entities it regulates.  [Yuka Hayashi, “New CFPB Chief Curbs Data Collection, Citing Cybersecurity Worries,” The Wall Street Journal, 12/04/17]
  • It wasn’t until May 31, 2018 that Mulvaney admitted that CFPB systems are “‘well-secured'” after he went as far as hiring a hacker to try and find a way to criticize the CFPB’s data security. On May 31, 2018, Mick Mulvaney sent an email to CFPB employees that an “‘exhaustive review'” had concluded that the CFPB “‘externally facing'” systems were “‘well-secured.'” Mulvaney’s email stated that he had frozen data collection out of “an abundance of caution” and that, since the review revealed that the systems were sound, CFPB employees would resume their data collection efforts. [The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Semi-Annual Report to Congress, United States Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, 04/12/18 and Mick Mulvaney email to CFPB AllHands, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 05/31/18]
  • The very next day, President Trump appeared to violate OMB rules on data disclosure. On Friday, June 1, 2018, President Trump appeared to skirt OMB rules dictating that government officials wait an hour to speak publicly about the monthly employment numbers when he tweeted that he was “‘looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning.’” [Ben White, “Trump breaks protocol and jolts markets by teasing secret jobs numbers,” Politico, 06/01/18 and “Tweet from President Donald Trump,” Twitter, 06/01/18]
  • OMB Regulations specifically bar “employees of the Executive Branch” from commenting publicly on data until at least one hour after the official release time. According to OMB Statistical Policy Directive No. 3, “All employees of the Executive Branch who receive prerelease distribution of information and data estimates… are responsible for assuring that there is no release prior to the official release time.” Furthermore, the regulation requires that “employees of the Executive Branch shall not comment publicly on the data until at least one hour after the official release time.” [“OMB Statistical Policy Directive No. 3 – Compilation, Release, and Evaluation of Principal Federal Economic Indicators,” Federal Register, 09/25/1985, accessed 06/01/18]

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