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Senior staffers at the Securities and Exchange Commission spent hours surfing pornographic websites on government-issued computers while they were being paid to police the financial system, an agency watchdog says.
The SEC's inspector general conducted 33 probes of employees looking at explicit images in the past five years, according to a memo obtained late on Thursday by The Associated Press.
The memo says 31 of those probes occurred in the 2 years since the financial system teetered and nearly crashed.
A senior attorney at the SEC's Washington headquarters spent up to eight hours a day looking at and downloading pornography. When he ran out of hard drive space, he burned the files to CDs or DVDs, which he kept in boxes around his office. He agreed to resign, an earlier watchdog report said.
An accountant was blocked more than 16,000 times in a month from visiting websites classified as "Sex" or "Pornography." Yet, he still managed to amass a collection of "very graphic" material on his hard drive by using Google images to bypass the SEC's internal filter, according to an earlier report from the inspector general. The accountant refused to testify in his defense and received a 14-day suspension.
Seventeen of the employees were "at a senior level," earning salaries of up to $US222,418 ($A239,933.12).
Well, they "are" allowed to investigate, just not allowed to do anything about it.
The SEC is a law enforcement and regulatory agency that protects the integrity of the securities markets and the interests of investors. With approximately 3000 employees nationwide, including 1300 lawyers, the SEC is small for a federal agency, but it plays a major role in shaping national and international market policy.
Our mission is to make sure our markets are the world's fairest and most vibrant. We enforce laws which require people who raise money from investors tell the truth; our markets are honest and orderly; and the securities business serves the needs of investors. The work of the SEC touches all aspects of the public securities markets, and SEC lawyers confront a wide variety of fundamental issues early in their careers. Neither command-and-control nor laissez-faire, the SEC's guiding philosophy is one of full disclosure. The system of industry self-regulation under SEC supervision gives the agency insight into practical regulatory solutions.
The SEC has a special pay schedule comparable to the Federal banking regulators. Employees receive base pay plus a locality percentage based on their office location. The salary ranges listed below are for the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Individual salary levels are determined based on your qualifications, previous legal experience, and salary history (including bonafide job offers).
One year of legal experience $75,000 to $96,000
Two years of legal experience $89,000 to $114,000
Senior/Supervisory positions $102,000 to $159,000 The SEC
rewards superior performance with advancement to a higher step within current grade, awards, and/or promotions to the next grade level.
* 13 days of paid vacation annually for new federal employees, increasing to 26 days annually, depending on length of federal service.
* 13 days of paid sick leave annually with unlimited accumulation that can be used for personal or family care.
* 10 paid holidays each year.
* Attractive retirement system which includes a pension plan, social security and an employer-matching 401(k)-type savings plan.
* Immediate health and life insurance coverage, including a range of provider choices to fit your needs.
* Flexible work schedules.