Fast Facts

Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help improve the federal government. We alert department heads to the recommendations where they can save the most money, address issues on our High Risk List, or significantly improve government operations.

This report outlines our 2 priority open recommendations for the Securities and Exchange Commission as of April 2020.

For example, validating its performance management system with staff input can help SEC enhance the system’s credibility.

Since our previous letter in April 2019, SEC implemented 5 of our priority recommendations.

SEC priority recommendation graphic

SEC priority recommendation graphic

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What GAO Found

In April 2019, GAO identified six priority recommendations for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Since then, SEC has implemented five of those recommendations by, among other things, implementing a more comprehensive workforce and succession planning process, which includes guidance from the Office of Personnel Management. In December 2019, GAO identified one additional priority recommendation for SEC, bringing the total number to 2. These recommendations involve the following areas:

  • conducting periodic validations (with staff input) of the performance management system and making changes, as appropriate; and
  • developing and implementing safeguards to better ensure transparency and fairness in SEC's new performance incentive bonus program.

SEC's continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations.

Why GAO Did This Study

Priority open recommendations are GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015, GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations.

For more information, contact Michael Clements at (202) 512-8678 or

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