Any employee in any organization knows that an internal disciplinary double standard is the quickest way to kill morale. Happens all the time, right? Likely even worse in organizations with lots of bureaucracy? Uncle Sam would not know how to operate otherwise, you say? The answers to all those questions may be the affirmative, but that does not make a double standard right nor does it mean that it should be tolerated. Why do I broach this topic?
Our friends at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) released a report just yesterday highlighting the pathetic disciplinary measures and massive double standard at the SEC in responding to recommendations from its own Office of Inspector General (OIG). POGO reports:
….this is not the first time the SEC has refused to follow an OIG recommendation for disciplinary action. A report recently released by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA) made note of the fact that the SEC has repeatedly failed to implement reforms or hold wrongdoers accountable. The report mentioned an investigation by POGO which revealed that the SEC has failed to act on hundreds of recommendations made by the OIG in recent years.
Following up on that investigation, we’ve prepared a new document summarizing the agency’s response to reports in which the OIG specifically recommended disciplinary action. This information mostly comes from the OIG’s semiannual reports to Congress and documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As you can see, the SEC has taken little to no action on many of these recommendations, especially when the individual cited is a senior official.
By failing to take disciplinary action against the two senior officers named in the OIG’s FWRO (Fort Worth Regional Office) report, the SEC continues to broadcast the message that senior management will not be held personally accountable for misconduct, no matter how egregious.
Just how egregious are some of the findings made by the OIG? Let’s navigate and review the report from POGO highlighting 18 separate instances in which the OIG recommended disciplinary action and in which ‘no action’ was taken. I found the following six to be the most outrageous. The OIG’s findings include (I recommend you take a deep breath first!!):
1. Disclosure of non-public information
2. Inappropriate conduct
3. Misuse of official position
4. Misuse of government computer resources to assist Ponzi scheme and violations of standards of ethical conduct. (Are you kidding me? This is not a major front page story? A Supervisor in the SEC’s Office of Administrative Services is found by the OIG to have engaged in these behaviors and is allowed to retire without disciplinary action being taken?? What a joke!!)
5. Suspicions of insider trading and appearances of impropriety in financial transactions. (In light of this reality, we should certainly not expect the SEC’s OCIE to pursue the insider trading and front running at FINRA in its liquidation of auction-rate securities in 2007!!)
6. Conflict of interest and improper solicitation of gifts.
For those interested in viewing the POGO report in its entirety, please click on the image:
Yes, boys and girls, that is your government and your tax dollars at work. Accountability? Transparency? Integrity? A ‘new’ SEC? Talk is cheap. This report is strong evidence that the senior inmates are running the asylum at the SEC.
In light of this report, is there truly any surprise how and why Wall Street has run roughshod over Main Street?
What happened to our country?
P.S. Hats off to POGO for great work!!
Disclosure: no positions