Distrust, Low Morale and Compartmentalization Hinder SEC

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Mary Jo White Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Mary Jo White Carolyn Kaster/AP

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s organizational culture is “not constructive and could hinder its ability to effectively fulfill its mission,” the Government Accountability Office reported on Thursday.

Interviews with current and past employees as well as third-party studies pointed to “low morale, distrust of management, and the compartmentalized, hierarchical, and risk-averse nature of the organization,” GAO found.

Discussions and focus groups with 129 accountants, attorneys and economists in Washington and in the field revealed that “more than half of nonsupervisory staff and about 43 percent of supervisory staff disagreed that employee morale is generally high most of the time,” the report stated.

The SEC ranked 19th of 22 similarly sized agencies in the Office of Personnel Management’s surveys on employee satisfaction and commitment.

The central problem, auditors said, is that “SEC has not consistently or fully implemented effective personnel management,” except for some components still in their early stages. The agency has not created a comprehensive workforce plan, the report said. Performance is not clearly linked to ratings, barriers to internal communication and collaboration persist, and personnel managers are not adequately held accountable, the auditor said.

GAO made seven recommendations to improve monitoring of workforce planning, to which the agency agreed.

The study was required under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Financial Reform law.

Former Justice Department financial crimes prosecutor Mary Jo White was sworn in as SEC chair on April 10.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.