Risk & Compliance

Running the SEC on the Cheap

The Bush Administration seeks $914 million Commission budget for fiscal 2009, up a mere $7 million despite higher subprime enforcement activity.
Stephen TaubFebruary 4, 2008

The Bush administration is seeking a budget of $914 million for the Securities and Exchange Commission for fiscal 2009, an increase of less than 1 percent over projected spending this year of $907 million.

The puny increase for the new Sept. 30 fiscal year, reported by Reuters, comes despite the SEC’s report that in fiscal 2007 it had increased its number of enforcement actions for the first time in four years. Announcement of the rise in enforcement actions was carried by Bloomberg News.

Meanwhile, the SEC is starting to look into whether securities laws were broken by companies or individuals involved in the subprime mortgage debacle. The enforcement division has opened about three dozen subprime-related cases, according to Reuters.

Under President Bush’s budget proposal, the enforcement division’s budget would rise only $3 million in the next fiscal year, to a total of $318 million.

The budget for corporation finance would rise by $2 million, to $113 million.

Securities lawyers, and governance experts in general, have been critical of the funding levels provided for SEC enforcement and for other market-related tasks, and have called for a larger budget for the securities regulator.

When the SEC reported that the number of enforcement cases in fiscal 2006 had fallen by 9 percent, SEC Chairman Christopher Cox attributed the decline to temporarily reduced staff levels, according to a Bloomberg report at the time.

A year ago President Bush asked Congress for a 3 percent budget increase for the SEC as part of his $2.9 trillion fiscal-2008 government funding plan.