SEC Would Add Two Commissioners Under U.S. Chamber Overhaul Plan

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission needs a top-down restructuring that increases the number of commissioners and requires they be more specialized, according to a report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The SEC would expand to seven members including a deputy chairman for management and operations under proposals included in the 135-page “Roadmap for Transformational Reform,” released in Washington today by the Chamber’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness. The plan outlines an overhaul for an SEC “grounded in an outdated view of the world’s financial markets” and in profound need of structural change.

“The agency has been too late to the dance so often that one can no longer consider these aberrations,” Jonathan G. Katz, the former SEC secretary who wrote the report for the chamber, said in a conference call with reporters. “Tinkering and fine tuning is no longer the best strategy,” he said.

Katz’s report calls for an expansion of investigative training in the SEC enforcement division and suggests that older cases “be closed routinely” to cut back the unit’s backlog. Enforcement “should have an explicit goal of bringing cases that advance the Commission’s entire regulatory agenda,” according to the report.

“The only unacceptable answer is the notion that no change is needed and money alone will solve the SEC’s problems,” David Hirschmann, president and chief executive officer of the Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, said on the conference call. “At a minimum, we hope it’ll lead to a vigorous debate.”

Republican Proposals

Congressional Republicans including Representative Spencer Bachus of Alabama, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, have proposed legislation to overhaul the SEC after faulting the agency for missteps before the 2008 credit crisis. Bachus’s bill calls for consolidating offices and instituting spending limits, incorporating recommendations from the SEC’s inspector general, the Government Accountability Office and a consultant’s report required by the Dodd-Frank Act.

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro has asked Congress to approve a $1.4 billion budget for 2012 as it implements new oversight duties under Dodd-Frank, the regulatory overhaul enacted in response to the 2008 crisis.

John Nester, an SEC spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the Chamber’s report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jesse Hamilton in Washington at jhamilton33@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lawrence Roberts at lroberts13@bloomberg.net.

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