The Senate Office of Public Records (OPR) receives, processes, and maintains for public inspection records, reports, and other documents filed with the Secretary of the Senate involving the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA), the Ethics in Government Act, the Mutual Security Act, and the Senate Code of Official Conduct. As provided by various Senate rules, OPR also handles public financial disclosure, reimbursed travel reports, registration of mass mailings, political fund designations, and supervisors' reports on individuals performing Senate services. The office reviews the filings of and provides guidance to registrants under the LDA.
OPR was established in April 1972 as a result of the passage of the Federal Election Campaign Act. Initially, the office was given responsibility for the campaign finance reports required of Senators by that act. Over time, OPR became a repository for reports required by statute and Senate rules, as well as the vehicle to make that information available to Senate staff, the public, and the press.
Boxes of typewritten lobbying reports, compiled by the Secretary's office since the passage of the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act of 1946, were transferred to OPR in 1973, along with the responsibility for disclosure of the information. Financial reporting requirements do not remain static, as it is the prerogative of Congress to amend or repeal them as it sees fit. The 1995 LDA repealed the earlier law and changed the reporting requirements. The flexible nature of these requirements demands that OPR staff keep abreast of current law and staff input is vital when forms are revised. Staff members develop specialized knowledge about particular areas of public records, and this in addition to training of all OPR staff, ensures the accuracy and timeliness of information provided to patrons.
Senate Code of Conduct filings were added to the OPR’s responsibilities in 1978. The office collects and provides access to reports required by Rule 34 (Public Financial Disclosure), Rule 35 (Gifts), Rule 40 (Registration of Mass Mailing [Franking]), Rule 41 (Political Fund Designees), and Rule 41(6) (Supervisor’s Reports on Individuals Performing Senate Services). January 1, 1996 revisions to Rule 35 made public the previously confidential reports on payments to charity in lieu of honoraria, and the reimbursement of travel by outside sources. Finally, the Mutual Security Act of 1954 requires the filing of foreign travel reports reflecting reimbursement of travel by the federal government.