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This is a major oversight because as stated above, one of the areas in which the use of former SEC officials seems to have been most successful is in the securing of waivers and releases. In leaving out these areas, the prime evidence in support of the revolving door demonstrates itself to be woefully inadequate. In contrast, the POGO report details a number of problems with this earlier academic study while demonstrating that some of the things the academic study tried to downplay, such as the SEC's tendency to settle rather than pursue charges to their fullest, are actually evidence of SEC regulation being affected by its close relationship with the industry it is meant to regulate (POGO, 2013, p. 28).
The study's findings are persuasive precisely because they are so comprehensive in their dismantling of the primary academic justification of the revolving door. By demonstrating the critical errors in the primary piece of evidence used in support of the notion that the revolving door does not affect regulation, the POGO report manages to simultaneously draw attention to worrisome trends within the SEC as a whole while demonstrating that the stated justifications for those trends do not hold up when scrutinized closely. The Corporate Crime Reporter's coverage of the POGO report manages to convey this fact effectively, because it summarizes many of the major points of the study while augmenting it with an author interview.
In particular, the Corporate Crime Reporter largely got its coverage of the report right because it was careful to highlight the study's goals, methods, and conclusions without either assuming too much or attempting to claim that the report said something it did not. For example, the news report was careful to highlight that the study did not claim that specific SEC employees were intentionally downgrading regulatory enforcement in an effort to secure lucrative private sector jobs, but instead was geared towards demonstrating how the culture as a whole contributed to an environment of relaxed regulatory efforts (Corporate Crime Reporter, 2013). This kind of accurate reporting is necessary when discussing issues of government accountability, because misrepresenting either the extent of possible malfeasance or conflicts of interests can ultimately serve to undermine efforts at reform by making it easier to accuse reformers of relying on straw man arguments and hyperbole. By ensuring accurate reporting, it is much easier to go forward with reform efforts, because the empirical justifications for those reforms cannot be as easily challenged.
By analyzing the Project on Government Oversight's study on the revolving door between the SEC and the industries it is supposed to regulate, one is able to not only learn more about the problems facing government regulators, but also gain some insight into how the proper research methodologies can contribute to effective, insightful reporting. The POGO report relied on secondary data provided via Freedom of Information Act requests on top of interviews with former and current SEC officials, and the combined use of these different methods of data acquisition allowed the report to provide a much clearer, broader picture of the regulatory environment than has been previously possible. In particular, the POGO report managed to demonstrate the critical gaps in previous examinations of the revolving door issue and highlight the way in which the granting of waivers and releases serves to diminish the SEC's regulatory capabilities. Furthermore, examining the news coverage of POGO's report served to demonstrate the need for clear, accurate reporting on issues such as this, because it is necessary for this research to be accurately presented if the general public is going to be privy to the kind of insights previously only held by specialists and analysts. The POGO report and its attendant coverage are a good example of the need for rigorous analysis and reporting when it comes to government accountability.
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Project on Government Oversight. (2013). Dangerous liaisons: Revolving door at sec creates risk of regulatory capture. (pp. 1-39). Washington, DC.: Project on Government
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