President Bush's budget for next year mirrors the headlines of the day in that only Defense, Homeland Security and the Securities and Exchange Commission would see any significant increase in their budgets.
The SEC has seen its workload expand significantly over the last year as it has taken civil action in cases related to Enron and WorldCom as well as conflicts of interest in a number of investment companies and trading irregularities/marketing issues in mutual funds, the Associated Press reported. The SEC has also been struggling under the load of investigating Time Warner, ImClone Systems, Martha Stewart, WorldCom and Xerox, the AP reported.
The proposed SEC, which totals $913 million, includes $18.7 million for new staff to work on these very issues. The budget includes $20 million the SEC was unable to spend last year because it couldn't hire accountants and attorneys fast enough, the AP reported.
In the wake of recent corporate scandals, Congress expanded the agency's authority and doubled the budget. While the 13 percent increase is actually quite moderate, at a time when only the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security are seeing any real budget increases, it is indicative of the increased demands on the SEC.
"It's a budget that continues what we have started," SEC Executive Director James McConnell told the AP.
This is the first budget drafted by SEC Chairman William Donaldson, who assumed the post a year ago. The SEC's funding comes from fees companies pay to register new stock, however the agency must still go through Congress's budget process.