Waste, Fraud, and Abuse meets the Chicago Way

The solution to every problem known to man, as any leftist will tell you, is Government Oversight or outright control of the problematic activity.

One such agency, charged with oversight of financial markets, is the SEC.

They’ve just proved they lack the ability to reliably poor piss out of a boot with directions written on the the sole of the heel.

Rounding Error


08 October 2011

Fire somebody. No – fire a lot of people. This may be news to you but this is not going well.
– James Carville

In an earlier post, we looked at how the SEC has been stumbling from one fiasco to the next, recasting the agency as a modern-day comedy of errors.  Their management by pratfall approach may have reached its zenith – or nadir, depending on your perspective – with the latest revelations surrounding its botched mega-sized DC office lease.

A little background.  Last Summer, the SEC signed the largest federal office lease in a decade – 900,000 square feet worth half a billion dollars.  A few months after signing, they decided that maybe they didn’t need about 2/3 of this space.  Several months after that, they determined that they really didn’t need the other 1/3 either.  The building owner said a deal’s a deal, oh and throw in $94 million in damages.  The SEC has since alternated between pointing fingers and staring at their shoes.

As this seemed a tad dysfunctional and wasteful, even by DC standards, a number of investigations were launched.  “Deeply flawed and unsound analysis”, “incomplete and inadequate”, “grossly overestimated”, “grandiose plans” were among the more charitable phrases tossed around.

But the pièce de résistance came this past Wednesday when the GAO noted that the SEC – this is the agency charged with policing corporate accounting, mind you – failed to use the correct $372 million lease figure on its books.  Honest mistake, right?  What did they put down, $300 million, $272 million?  Uhhh, try $180,000!  Not sure how many orders of magnitude this is off, but it has to be nearing ‘green jobs’  territory.

Allegations of a cover up and backdating documents have since added to the fun, so Justice is now seeking to determine if several SEC officials will graduate from taking remedial courses in Contracting 101  to patrolling the grounds in orange jumpsuits.

Just what does it take for the Obama Administration to pink slip some of these buffoons?!?  That’s the $64,000,000,000,000 question …

The math says the actual rent was 2,138 times greater than what was reported, by the way.  That’s in excess of three orders of magnitude.

I have, over the course of my lifetime, become more than adequately convinced that bureaucracies (and especially bureaucratic regulatory agencies) are holes in the ground into which vast sums of tax payer dollars are dumped to no good effect.

I had no idea that Chicago way could make such a disastrous state of affairs orders of magnitude worse.


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