August 2, 2013

My Take on the SEC’s Morale

I got many emails last week when Reuters reported about the SEC’s low morale as described in this new GAO report. Much of the “news” wasn’t really new as the SEC’s low spot in the federal agency rankings was known at the beginning of the year, as I previously blogged.

As the GAO report points out, the SEC could improve its effectiveness. Of course, any large organization could (as any smaller ones). And let’s bear in mind the reality that this is the government we are talking about. There is some ineffectiveness that is just plain impossible to overcome (eg. much harder to fire someone compared to private sector).

But in terms of real morale, my experience is that most SEC Staffers are pretty happy in their job and have learned to tune out most of the persistent negative energy around them although the constant bashing in the press, endless budget battles and varied political shenanigans – not to mention the numerous court losses – undoubtedly can dint morale. At the end of the day, most Staffers have worked “on the other side” and recognize that what they have ain’t so bad…

If this pending legislation limiting the SEC’s ability to access emails goes through, that won’t be good for Enforcement’s morale…

SEC Going to Wider Telecommuting

And it’s about to get better for some SEC Staffers! As noted in this Bloomberg article, the SEC has reached a new deal with its employee union that permits new flexible work schedules and includes new rules for furloughs caused by federal budget cuts. Here is an excerpt from the article:

The e-mail says telecommuting will be available for three, four, or five days a week and will be “phased in across the agency.” Currently, 10 percent of the agency’s non-management staff telecommutes two days a week, Gilman said in an e-mail responding to questions about the agreement. “Only a small handful of employees” work from home five days a week, Gilman said. Most of them review corporate filings, he said.

Within a fairly short period of time, SEC Chair White has made changes on a number of fronts – some of which are bound to boost morale – particularly in the Enforcement area. See this Sidley article about the Chair’s first 100 days in office – and this NY Times article about the changes in the Enforcement program. And see this blog from David Smyth about the deeper meaning of the SAC’s Steve Cohen case (as well as this WSJ article by Russ Ryan about the SEC’s low burden of proof).

Cool Stuff: Global M&A Jargon App

In this podcast, Mark Gerstein of Latham & Watkins discusses the firm’s new global mergers & acquisitions app (and the related daily video series covering the “Word of the Day”), including:

– How long did it take to put together this app?
– What is the best way for practitioners to use it?
– Any surprises since you launched?
– Any plans for other apps?

By the way, Latham also has a new “Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption App.” Check it out…

– Broc Romanek