GAO Survey on SEC Personnel and Human Capital Management

U.S. Government Accountability Office

Introduction

  The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent agency that works for Congress, has been mandated by Section 962 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Pub.L. 111-203) to review the quality of personnel management at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including issues related to human capital programs, workforce planning, performance management, and communication. As a part of our review, we are sending this questionnaire to Senior Officers across all mission-critical divisions and offices of the SEC. Your cooperation is critical to providing the Congress with complete and balanced information on how personnel management is functioning across these offices and divisions within the SEC. This questionnaire should take about 20 minutes to complete.

GAO pledges to maintain the confidentiality of the responses to this survey, which means that we will not share individually identifiable information obtained from the responses with SEC, nor release individually identifiable information outside of GAO, unless compelled by a court or requested by the Congress. Our information protection protocols include destroying any link between the identification number assigned to your questionnaire and your identifying information before issuance of our report. The results of this questionnaire will be used to compile descriptive information on SEC's personnel management, and the results will be included in summary form in our final report. Individual answers may be discussed in the report, but we will not include any information that could be used to identify individual respondents.

All of the questions in this survey can be answered by clicking on radio buttons or providing comments in spaces provided at the end of each section. Please complete the questionnaire within 10 business days of receipt. This questionnaire is divided by topic into seven sections:

(1) Recruitment, Training, Staff Development, and Resources
(2) Communication Between and Within SEC Divisions and Offices
(3) Leadership and Management
(4) Performance Management and Promotions
(5) Organizational Culture and Climate
(6) Demographics and Background Information; and
(7) Final Comments.

Although your participation is voluntary, we urge you to complete this questionnaire. We cannot develop meaningful information without your frank and honest answers.

Thank you very much for your time.

 

Section 1 - Recruitment, Training, Staff Development, and Resources

  Notes on terms used in Section 1:

(1) Division/office: For purposes of this survey, the phrase "division/office" refers to your division or office (such as the Division of Corporation Finance or OCIE in the Headquarters or the Division of Enforcement or OCIE in a regional office).

(2) Supervisors and managers: The phrase "supervisors and managers" refers to those in supervisory or management positions below your current level that you oversee such as Assistant Directors or those in the SK-15 to SK-17 grades that you oversee.

 
1.  To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements on recruitment, hiring and retention? (Select one response per item.)

   
Strongly
agree
Somewhat
agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Somewhat
disagree
Strongly
disagree
Do not know
1a.  My division/office is able to attract talented and qualified employees.
1b.  My division/office retains its most talented and qualified employees.
1c.  When new people start in jobs in my division/office, they are given enough guidance and training.
1d.  Hiring is sometimes based more on personal connections than on substantive experience or qualifications.
1e.  Overall, SEC's Office of Human Resources provides timely support to my division/office.
1f.  SEC's Office of Human Resources has the necessary expertise to assist in recruiting and hiring qualified employees.
1g.  The process of hiring qualified employees is usually more time-consuming than need be.
1h.  My division/office has enough staff to manage the volume of work that needs to be completed.
 
2.  To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements on training and development opportunities? (Select one response per item.)

Please note: Some questions ask you to look back over the past three years. If you have worked at the SEC for less than three years, we ask that you look back over the period of time that you have worked at the SEC.

   
Strongly
agree
Somewhat
agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Somewhat
disagree
Strongly
disagree
Do not know
2a.  SEC needs to invest more in the development of new employees.
2b.  The training I have received over the past three years has provided me skills and experience to meet SEC's needs.
2c.  My division/office needs to do more to address skills gaps.
2d.  Over the past three years, SEC's leadership training has been effective in improving the management skills of supervisors and managers in my division/office.
 
3.  For those training opportunities that you have been involved with over the past three years, to what extent, if at all, have the following types of training provided information and knowledge that is directly relevant to your work? (Select one response per item.)

   
To a
great extent
To a
moderate extent
To a
small extent
To
no
extent
No basis
to judge
Do not
know
3a.  Training provided by the SEC University
3b.  External training or conferences
3c.  Computer-based training delivered by Internet
 
4.  With respect to the hiring freeze that began in January of 2017, what effect, if any, has the hiring freeze had on your division/office’s workload?

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
 
  a. How large of a positive effect has the hiring freeze had on your division/office’s workload?

1.
2.
3.
4.
 
  a. How large of a negative effect has the hiring freeze had on your division/office’s workload?

1.
2.
3.
4.
 
5.  With respect to the hiring freeze that began in January of 2017, what effect, if any, has the hiring freeze had on your division/office’s ability to meet its mission?

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
 
  a. How large of a positive effect has the hiring freeze had on your division/office’s ability to meet its mission?

1.
2.
3.
4.
 
  a. How large of a negative effect has the hiring freeze had on your division/office’s ability to meet its mission?

1.
2.
3.
4.
 
6.  If there are any other issues, details, or information concerning recruitment, training, staff development and resources that you would like us to know about, please use the space below to provide this information.

 

Section 2 - Communication Within and Between SEC Divisions and Offices

  Notes on terms used in Section 2:

(1) Division/office: For purposes of this survey, the phrase "division/office" refers to your division or office (such as the Division of Corporation Finance or OCIE in the Headquarters or the Division of Enforcement or OCIE in a regional office).

(2) Management: For purposes of this survey, "management" refers to those at the Senior Officer (SO) level (Associate Director, Deputy Director, etc.).

Please note: Some questions ask you to look back over the past three years. If you have worked at the SEC for less than three years, we ask that you look back over the period of time that you have worked at the SEC.
 
7.  To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements regarding communication within your division/office or between your division/office and other SEC offices and divisions? (Select one response per item.)

   
Strongly
agree
Somewhat
agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Somewhat
disagree
Strongly
disagree
Do not know
7a.  My division/office supports open, two-way communication between staff and Senior Officers.
7b.  Information is adequately shared across groups in my division/office.
7c.  Communication across groups in my division/office has improved over the past three years.
7d.  Overall, information and knowledge are shared openly at all levels within my division/office.
7e.  In my division/office, communication between other offices and divisions (such as between OCIE and CorpFin) on work-related matters is encouraged.
 
8.  To what extent do you agree or disagree that, in the past 12 months, communication between my division/office and the following divisions/offices is adequate to achieve SEC’s mission? (Select one response per item. If you work in that division or office, select “Not Applicable.")

   
Strongly
agree
Somewhat
agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Somewhat
disagree
Strongly
disagree
Do not know
Not applicable
a.  OCIE
b.  Division of Enforcement
c.  Division of Corporation Finance
d.  Division of Investment Management
e.  Division of Trading and Markets
f.  Division of Economic and Risk Analysis
g.  Office of Credit Ratings
h.  Office of Information Technology
i.  Office of the Chief Accountant
 
9.  If there are any other issues, details, or information concerning communication between and within divisions and offices that you would like us to know about, please use the space below to provide this information.

 

Section 3 - Leadership and Management

  Notes on terms used in Section 3:

(1) Division/office: For purposes of this survey, the phrase "division/office" refers to your division or office (such as the Division of Corporation Finance or OCIE in the Headquarters or the Division of Enforcement or OCIE in a regional office).

(2) Supervisors and managers: The phrase "supervisors and managers" refers to those in supervisory or management positions below your current level that you oversee such as Assistant Directors or those in the SK-15 to SK-17 grades that you oversee.

(3) Management: For purposes of this survey, "management" refers to Assistant Directors and those at the Senior Officer (SO) level including Directors, Deputy Directors, Managing Executives, and Associate Directors.

Please note: Some questions ask you to look back over the past three years. If you have worked at the SEC for less than three years, we ask that you look back over the period of time that you have worked at the SEC.
 
10.  To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements regarding the quality of management and leadership in your division/office? (Select one response per item.)

   
Strongly
agree
Somewhat
agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Somewhat
disagree
Strongly
disagree
Do not know
a.  In my division/office, the roles and responsibilities of Senior Officers are clearly defined.
b.  In my division/office the roles and responsibilities of non-Senior Officer supervisors and managers are clearly defined.
c.  Senior Officers in my division/office are genuinely interested in the opinions of their staff.
d.  Non-Senior Officer supervisors and managers in my division/office are genuinely interested in the opinions of their staff.
e.  In my office/division, promotion to management is based more on substantive experience or qualifications than on personal connections or favoritism.
f.  Over the past 3 years, I have seen SEC staff leave due to being dissatisfied with a supervisor or manager.
 
11.  Are the numbers of supervisors and managers currently in your division/office more than is needed, less than is needed, or an appropriate amount given the current workload?

1.
2.
3.
4.
 
12.  Are the numbers of supervisory levels currently in your division/office more than is needed, less than is needed, or an appropriate amount given the current workload?

1.
2.
3.
4.
 
13.  If there are any other issues, details, or information concerning leadership and management at the SEC that you would like us to know about, please use the space below to provide this information.

 

Section 4 - Performance Management and Promotions

  Notes on terms used in Section 4:

(1) Management: For purposes of this survey, "management" refers to those at the Senior Officer (SO) level (Associate Director, Deputy Director, etc.).

(2) Supervisors and managers: The phrase "supervisors and managers" refers to those in supervisory or management positions below your current level that you oversee such as Assistant Directors or those in the SK-15 to SK-17 grades that you oversee.
 
14.  To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements regarding how SEC management recognizes and rewards performance in your division/office? (Select one response per item.)

   
Strongly
agree
Somewhat
agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Somewhat
disagree
Strongly
disagree
Do not know
a.  Overall, Senior Officers deal effectively with poor performing supervisors and managers.
b.  In my division/office, Senior Officers have the resources (including training and support from OHR and OGC) they need to effectively deal with poor performing employees.
c.  The opportunities in my division/office to get promoted into a management position are limited.
d.  Current performance incentives are effective tools to motivate employees to perform well.
 
15.  In the past three years, to what extent do you agree or disagree that you have been treated fairly in each of the areas listed below? (Select one response per item.)

   
Strongly
agree
Somewhat
agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Somewhat
disagree
Strongly
disagree
No basis to judge
Do not know
a.  Career advancement (Promotions)
b.  Awards
c.  Training
d.  Performance appraisals
e.  Job assignments
f.  Discipline
g.  Pay
 
16.  To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements regarding SEC's performance management system in place in 2018? (Select one response per item.)

   
Strongly
agree
Somewhat
agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Somewhat
disagree
Strongly
disagree
Do not know
a.  SEC's performance management system uses relevant criteria to evaluate my performance.
b.  SEC's performance management system allows supervisors and managers to have a meaningful discussion with their staff on how they are performing.
c.  The time it takes me to develop, review, and formalize performance assessments under SEC's current performance management system is unreasonable.
d.  SEC’s performance management system provides consistent standards for rewarding performance.
e.  Changes need to be made to increase transparency in the process used to rate performance.
f.  Calibration of performance ratings by management improves fairness in the performance management system.
g.  Employee performance appraisals are fair and appropriate under SEC's performance management system.
 
17.  If there are any other issues, details, or information concerning performance management and promotions at the SEC that you would like us to know about, please use the space below to provide this information.

 

Section 5 - Organizational Culture and Climate

  Notes on terms used in Section 5:

(1) Division/office: For purposes of this survey, the phrase "division/office" refers to your division or office (such as the Division of Corporation Finance or OCIE in the Headquarters or the Division of Enforcement or OCIE in a regional office).

(2) Supervisors and managers: The phrase "supervisors and managers" refers to those in supervisory or management positions below your current level that you oversee such as Assistant Directors or those in the SK-15 to SK-17 grades that you oversee.
 
18.  To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements regarding different aspects of organizational culture and climate within your division/office? (Select one response per item.)

   
Strongly
agree
Somewhat
agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Somewhat
disagree
Strongly
disagree
Do not know
a.  There is an atmosphere of trust in my division/office.
b.  Employee morale is generally high most of the time.
c.  I have a voice in decisions that affect me and my work environment.
d.  Senior Officers tolerate honest mistakes.
e.  Supervisors and managers tolerate honest mistakes.
 
   
Strongly
agree
Somewhat
agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Somewhat
disagree
Strongly
disagree
Do not know
f.  There are clearly defined policies and procedures for doing my work.
g.  Innovative ideas are encouraged in my division/office.
h.  Fear of public scandals has made SEC overly cautious and risk-averse.
i.  In my view, the fear of being wrong makes Senior Officers in my division/office reluctant to take a stand on important issues.
j.  In my view, the fear of being wrong makes non-Senior Officer supervisors and managers in my division/office reluctant to take a stand on important issues.
 
19.  With respect to the hiring freeze that began in January of 2017, what effect, if any, has the hiring freeze had on your division/office’s morale?

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
 
  a. How large of a positive effect has the hiring freeze had on your division/office’s morale?

1.
2.
3.
4.
 
  a. How large of a negative effect has the hiring freeze had on your division/office’s morale?

1.
2.
3.
4.
 
20.  If there are any other issues, details, or information concerning the organizational culture or climate at the SEC or in your division/office that you would like us to know about, please use the space below to provide this information.

 

Section 6 - Demographic and Background Information

 
Note on Section 6: As a reminder, your responses will be kept confidential, which means that GAO will not release individually identifiable information unless compelled by a court or requested by the Congress. GAO’s final report will only present results in summary form.
 
21.  In which location or regional office do you work?

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
 
22.  In which SEC division or office do you currently work?

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
 
 
Please specify the "other" division or
office where you currently work:
 
23.  Which of the following best describes your position?

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
 
  Please specify your position:
 
24.  What is your current level or grade?

1.
2.
3.
4.
 
  Please specify your current level or grade:
 
25.  How long have you worked for the SEC (please include total years of service with SEC if you left SEC and came back again)?

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
 
26.  How many years did you work outside of SEC, but in a position related to the type of work SEC conducts or that dealt with issues SEC covers?

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
 

Section 7 - Comments and Final Response Submission

27.  Please use the space below to provide any additional information about the SEC's human capital programs, workforce planning, performance management, and communication that you would like us to know about.

 
28.  Are you ready to submit your final completed survey to GAO?
(This is equivalent to mailing a completed paper survey to us. It tells us that your answers are official and final.)

1.
2.
 



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U.S. Government Accountability Office

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