April 7, 2010

How is Morale at the SEC? A Job Satisfaction Survey

Probably not the best indicator of morale since the survey took place at the end of ’08 – and the SEC’s reputation has been significantly sullied since then – the SEC recently posted the results of a biannual job satisfaction survey. The SEC’s survey is based on a subset of a much larger “Federal Human Capital Survey.”

Here are a few thoughts:

– For starters, I am surprised to see these results made publicly available. I don’t recall seeing something like this before, but I may be remiss. Not a big deal that they are – it’s just not the type of thing you normally see posted.

– 1605 out of a possible 3125 Staffers (51%) responded to the survey, with an equal mix of supervisors and subordinates participating.

– This survey provides data compared to the last two surveys (’06 and ’04), as well as the responses of all government employees to the ’08 survey.

– Overall, morale seemed pretty good at the SEC as of the end of ’08. There were 63 questions asked – and typically, a majority were positive when answering a query. Overall, the SEC Staff’s level of positiveness often were in line with the government as a whole.

– As could be expected – given that the crisis was in full force at the end of ’08 – the SEC scored lower in this survey for many questions compared to the last two biannual surveys. But not as much as you would expect given the circumstances.

– The area that seems like it needs the most work is “complaints, disputes or grievances are resolved fairly in my work unit” (question #44 on page 12). Positive answers were 32% – but in line with prior two surveys and not far below the government-wide average. Similar ratios existed for “promotions based on merit” (question #22) and “steps are taken to deal with a poor performer” (question #23). I know how hard it is to discipline someone in the government – supervisors are sued all the time for the smallest things, so these don’t really surprise me.

As an aside, note that at least one version of the regulatory reform bills floating on Capitol Hill calls for a GAO study regarding the SEC’s revolving door (personally, I don’t see a problem with it – having a government background allows folks to better serve clients and also is one of the reasons why the government is able to recruit good people on the cheap). This WSJ article from yesterday was critical of this difficult issue for the Staff.

I’d be curious to see how law firms rate in a number of these categories. My guess is not too well. Good management is tough to accomplish. And supervisors in both the government and law firms often are not properly trained in this art…

The SEC Hires a “Kathy Griffin”: Freed from the “D” List?

While I was on vaca, the SEC announced that Kathleen M. Griffin has been named the agency’s first Chief Compliance Officer – the latest in a series of measures undertaken to strengthen the SEC’s internal compliance program. The announcement came on April Fool’s Day, so naturally I thought that Kathy Griffin had finally been taken off the “D” list. But alas, the SEC was not joking – nor has Kathy been freed from her semi-celebrity status as the SEC hired a different Ms. Griffin.

By the way, there is precedent for the SEC issuing a press release in the form of a joke on April Fool’s Day, as I blogged about in ’07.

Marty Rosenbaum has his Blog up and running again. Check out his recent analysis of the intersection of baseball and proxy statements.

Just Mailed: Romeo & Dye Section 16 Deskbook

Peter Romeo and Alan Dye just completed the 2010 edition of the Section 16 Deskbook and it’s now in the mail to those that subscribe to the Romeo & Dye Section 16 Annual Service. To receive this critical Section 16 resource, try a ’10 no-risk trial to the “Section 16 Annual Service.”

– Broc Romanek