Information Access:

Improving Securities and Exchange Commission's Public Reference Room Operations

GGD-89-85: Published: Jun 7, 1989. Publicly Released: Jul 6, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed complaints by regular users of the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) public reference room in Washington, D.C., regarding public access rules.

GAO found that regular users complained that: (1) an SEC decision to close its microfiche files to the public and allow only SEC staff to fill users' microfiche requests led to delays in obtaining materials and more difficulty in doing research; and (2) the SEC microfiche contractor had an unfair advantage, since it received copies of certain time-sensitive documents before regular users received them in the reference room. GAO also found that: (1) closing the microfiche files may have increased the time needed to obtain materials, but it facilitated file maintenance and security; (2) the SEC action did not violate any applicable statutes or regulations; and (3) SEC reported that it eliminated nearly all SEC staff processing of the time-sensitive documents in order to eliminate the contractor's earlier access.

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