SEC Chair Mary Jo White appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday of this week in support of the agency's request for $1.722 billion in FY 2016 -- a 15 percent increase over the SEC's budget in FY 2015. As has tended to be the case in recent years, the SEC's request seemed to be met with a significant degree of skepticism by Congress.
Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, opened the hearing by observing that the SEC's FY 2015 budget was $150 million (11%) above FY 2014, which he said was "more generous than those provided to any other agencies in the bill." Sen. Boozman added that "unfortunately, as we have seen too often, access to more funding does not necessarily ensure that an agency will successfully achieve its mission or spend that funding responsibly."
While Sen. Boozman acknowledged that the SEC has the important job of "protecting investors from the next Madoff, Peregrine, MF Global or Stanford," he stated that his subcommittee was "most interested to hear what decisions you have made to operate more efficiently in order to carry out your responsibilities within current funding levels."
In response, Chair White explained that the agency needed the additional fund to keep pace with the growth of the U.S. securities markets that it regulates. She stated that from FY 2001 to the start of FY 2015, assets under management of SEC-registered investment advisers increased approximately 254 percent (from $17.5 trillion to approximately $62 trillion); assets under management of mutual funds grew by 143 percent (from $6.4 trillion to $15.6 trillion); and annual trading volume in the equity markets more than doubled to in excess of $67 trillion.
Chair White stated that the SEC’s FY 2016 budget request would allow it to hire an additional 431 staff across the agency and enhance its information technology. She stated that in the Enforcement area, in particular, the SEC planned to add 93 new positions in three areas: intelligence processing and analysis (20 positions); investigations (50 positions); and litigation (23 positions).
A video of Tuesday's hearing before the the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government can be viewed here.