White Collar & Criminal Law News

SEC Seeks $45 Million for Tech Initiatives in 2019 Budget

Feb. 13, 2018, 6:17 PM

By Andrew Ramonas

The SEC is looking for $45 million to improve its cybersecurity and better detect suspicious trading as part of a technology modernization effort, according to the agency’s fiscal 2019 budget request to Congress.

The request was part of a $1.658 billion funding proposal the Securities and Exchange Commission released Feb. 12. The new technology money would help the agency enhance the security of its Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval (EDGAR) corporate filings database; better monitor high-frequency trading; and take on other tech modernization priorities, according to the commission.

The agency disclosed last year hackers breached the EDGAR system in 2016, drawing worries from lawmakers and others about the agency’s ability to protect its data.

“These key priorities—many of which are driven by changes in our markets—will enhance the SEC’s ability to serve the public as well as analyze and act on large amounts of data,” the commission said in its request.

The SEC also said it would use money from a reserve fund created under the Dodd-Frank Act for tech initiatives, as President Donald Trump’s administration asked to eliminate it in a separate 2019budget request.

The commission would lose the fund in 2020, when its money would go toward deficit reduction, according to the Trump plan. The fund represents “an extension of the agency’s regular appropriation rather than the emergency reserve it was intended to be,” according to the White House. The commission can put up to $50 million in the fund annually.

SEC Budget Details

The agency’s $1.658 billion request is $7 million more than the $1.651 billion in total budget authority the SEC said it had for 2017, the last time the amount to fully fund the government was available. The sum is the same as the Trump administration requested in a separate funding plan. The White House and the SEC sought $1.602 billion for the 2018 budget, which lawmakers still are considering.

The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations and divisions of Enforcement, Corporation Finance, Investment Management, Trading and Markets, and Economic and Risk Analysis all would see their funding increase from 2017, according to the commission’s 2019 congressional budget justification. The increases range from 1.7 percent for the Division of Corporation Finance to 10.4 percent for the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis. The Division of Enforcement would get a 3.8 percent funding bump.

The budget is expected to fund 4,628 staffers, about 100 more employees than it has this year, according to the SEC. The commission lost about 300 positions during a hiring freeze that started in fiscal 2017 and continues this year.

The agency’s funding will need congressional approval, even though it’s deficit neutral. The commission will offset any funds it receives from Congress with money collected from fees charged to the firms the agency regulates.

CFTC Funding Requests

The Trump administration also requested $281.5 million for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for 2019. The total was the same amount asked for by the CFTC in a separate budget document.

The sum included $31.5 million funded by fees the agency is seeking to collect from entities it regulates. Congress, however, must first approve legislation authorizing the fee collection.

The CFTC also sought $281.5 million in its 2018 budget, which the White House at the time requested to keep flat at $250 million.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Ramonas in Washington at aramonas@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

For More Information

SEC budget request: https://www.sec.gov/files/secfy19congbudgjust.pdf.CFTC budget request: http://www.cftc.gov/idc/groups/public/@newsroom/documents/file/cftcbudget2019.pdf. White House budget request: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/oia-fy2019.pdf.

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