September 22, 2010
GAO Recommends Actions to Improve SEC Regulation of Rating Agencies
The GAO released a report on Action Needed to Improve Rating Agency Registration Program and Performance-Related Disclosures. According to the summary:
In 2006, Congress passed the Credit Rating Agency Reform Act (Act), which intended to improve credit ratings by fostering accountability, transparency, and competition. The Act established Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) oversight over Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations (NRSRO), which are credit rating agencies that are registered with SEC. The Act requires GAO to review the implementation of the Act. This report (1) discusses the Act’s implementation; (2) evaluates NRSROs’ performance-related disclosures; (3) evaluates removing NRSRO references from certain SEC rules; (4) evaluates the impact of the Act on competition; and (5) provides a framework for evaluating alternative models for compensating NRSROs. To address the mandate, GAO reviewed SEC rules, examination guidance, completed examinations, and staff memoranda; analyzed required NRSRO disclosures and market share data; and interviewed SEC and NRSRO officials and market participants.
The Report's recommendations include:
SEC should identify the additional time frames and authorities it needs to review NRSRO applications, develop a plan to help ensure the NRSRO examination program is sufficiently staffed, improve NRSROs’ performance-related disclosure requirements, and develop a plan to approach the removal of NRSRO references from its rules. SEC generally agreed with these recommendations.
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