| July 18
July 18 The U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission is not the best place to work among federal agencies
in Washington, according to a new study by a government
The SEC's organizational structure "has not been conducive
to motivating and encouraging a high level of performance,"
concluded the Government Accountability Office in a report
released on Thursday.
"Many staff indicated that morale is low and a significant
percentage characterize the atmosphere of the agency as one of
distrust," the GAO said.
The GAO's report was required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall
Street reform law, whose three-year anniversary is this month.
The study was mandated following several high-profile lapses
at the SEC during the financial crisis, including its failure to
detect Bernard Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme.
An Office of Personnel Management survey of federal
employees ranked the SEC 19th of 22 similarly sized agencies
based on employee satisfaction.
The GAO laid out several areas in need of improvement,
including workforce planning, performance management,
communication and personnel management assessment.
While the SEC has taken some steps in most of these areas to
improve, the GAO urged the agency to do more.
Some of the findings in the GAO's report are consistent with
complaints often lodged by the SEC's Chapter of National
Treasury Employees Union.
In addition, the GAO's survey found that many employees
still view the culture at the SEC as "siloed" - where one
division does not talk to the other.
This was highlighted several years ago by the Madoff and
Allen Stanford Ponzi scandals, where examiners and enforcement
lawyers failed to properly communicate and may have missed
opportunities to detect the schemes.
The GAO said the SEC is actively working to create a
comprehensive workforce plan and is trying to close skill gaps
to hire people with more financial industry expertise.
Still, the GAO said, the SEC lacks a transparent process for
leadership succession and many interviewed did not see "much
incentive" to be promoted into management positions.
In a letter responding to the GAO study, SEC Chair Mary Jo
White said she recognizes there is still "work to do in these
areas" and that she is "committed to ensuring that process
The SEC agreed with the report's recommendations, she said.
She added that the SEC is taking steps toward addressing
workforce competency gaps and improving intra-agency
She also said the SEC has successfully implemented
pay-for-performance for non-bargaining unit employees, and is
still in the process of assessing the impact of the new system.
An SEC spokeswoman declined to make any additional comment.