SEC Uses New Funding to Enhance Investigation Technology

The Securities and Exchange Commission is putting new cash to good use as it updates its technology to make investigations easier and more efficient.

Gone are the days when boxes of documents lined

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hallways and offices, replaced by data stored on computer systems with paper backups kept offsite, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

The SEC is more likely to quickly discover problems at brokerage firms, mutual funds and public companies thanks to an upswing in its technology budget, which went jumped from less than $47 million two years ago to $120 million, Dow Jones reported.

Flush with new cash, "they are in a better position today than they were five years ago," Orice Williams, acting director for financial markets and community investment at the Government Accountability Office, told Dow Jones.

The SEC is using hardware and software to ferret out “smoking guns” in e-mails as well as files deleted from hard drives. Searchable electronic files are also aiding investigators.

"We're actively using that technology today and we're going to be doing a lot more of it," R. Corey Booth, director of the SEC's information-technology office, told Dow Jones.

The SEC is also making use of secure websites to help gain quick access to all kinds of electronic data.

Another technological advance is the use of a data "tagging" system known as XBRL. This experiment, which has been tested by Morgan Stanley and Microsoft, could make it easier for investors, analysts and SEC staffers to analyze corporate performance and spot results out of line with the past or with other companies, Dow Jones reported.

"It will make us more efficient, it will make us more productive and I hope it will make us better," Alan Beller, head of the SEC corporation finance division, which reviews public companies, told Dow Jones.

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