Year Started At POGO: 2006 as an intern
Areas of expertise: Financial Sector Oversight, Revolving Door Conflicts of Interest, Federal Advisory Committees
Michael Smallberg focuses on the government's oversight of the financial services industry. Smallberg has contributed to POGO’s reports, testimony, letters, public comments, and blog posts on issues such as the revolving door, bailout contractor conflicts of interest, and excessive secrecy at financial regulatory agencies. Prior to joining POGO in 2006, Smallberg interned at the National Archives. He earned a B.A. in American History from Brown University. Smallberg has appeared on CNN and been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
- Authored POGO's report, Revolving Regulators: SEC Faces Ethics Challenges with Revolving Door, which explored the cozy ties between the Securities and Exchange Commission and Wall Street
- Contributed to POGO's testimony on excessive secrecy at the SEC, which led to the repeal of legislation that had given the agency sweeping new powers to withhold records from the public
- Authored POGO's report, Easy Money: Top Five Recommendations for Increasing Revenue and Cutting Costs
Major corporations make it financially advantageous for executives to take government jobs, according to regulatory filings reviewed by POGO. Through their compensation policies, companies may be fueling the revolving door.
POGO Report - Dangerous Liaisons: Revolving Door at SEC Creates Risk of Regulatory Capture, February 11, 2013, Overview
POGO Report - Dangerous Liaisons: Revolving Door at SEC Creates Risk of Regulatory Capture, February 11, 2013, Revolving Door Rules Apply Unevenly and Revolving in the Dark
A revolving door blurs the lines between one of the nation’s most important regulatory agencies and the interests it regulates. Former employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) routinely help corporations try to influence SEC rulemaking, counter the agency’s investigations of suspected wrongdoing, soften the blow of SEC enforcement actions, block shareholder proposals, and win exemptions from federal law. POGO’s report examines many manifestations of the revolving door, analyzes how the revolving door can influence the SEC, and explores how to mitigate the most harmful effects.
POGO Report - Dangerous Liaisons: Revolving Door at SEC Creates Risk of Regulatory Capture, February 11, 2013, Looking Outside the SEC, Conclusion, Recommendations
POGO Report - Dangerous Liaisons: Revolving Door at SEC Creates Risk of Regulatory Capture, February 11, 2013, Part 1: Money Market Meltdown - A Case Study
POGO Report - Dangerous Liaisons: Revolving Door at SEC Creates Risk of Regulatory Capture, February 11, 2013, Scores of SEC Alumni Go to Bat for SEC-Regulated Companies
POGO Report - Dangerous Liaisons: Revolving Door at SEC Creates Risk of Regulatory Capture, February 11, 2013, Part 5 and 6
We appreciate your oversight of the federal agencies that regulate the swaps and futures markets, especially in light of the massive customer losses at MF Global and Peregrine Financial Group. As you explore opportunities for improving the regulation of these markets, we urge you to reconsider the government’s reliance on private self-regulatory organizations (SROs) such as the National Futures Association (NFA).
POGO has joined others in raising serious concerns about the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the largest self-regulatory organization (SRO) for the securities industry. FINRA’s regulatory effectiveness is undermined by its inherent conflicts of interest, its lack of transparency and accountability, its lobbying expenditures, and its executive compensation packages, among other issues. A recent analysis by the Boston Consulting Group underscored the costs associated with authorizing FINRA or a new SRO to regulate investment advisers. For these reasons, we oppose H.R. 4624, which would authorize one or more SROs to oversee the investment adviser industry.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) would like to provide the following public comment to the Assembly of the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) regarding the proposed recommendation dealing with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).
POGO has obtained five years’ worth of statements filed by former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) employees who appeared before the SEC seeking to represent outside clients within two years after leaving government. POGO has also made these post-employment statements publicly available in a searchable online database. This report provides an overview of the information disclosed in these statements, and examines the SEC’s oversight of former employees who go through the revolving door.
As an independent watchdog that champions good government reforms, POGO has a keen interest in ensuring that our nation’s financial regulatory watchdogs—including self-regulatory organizations (SROs) such as FINRA, which currently oversees over 4,600 brokerage firms operating in the U.S.—are operating with sufficient transparency and accountability to their members, investors, and taxpayers.
The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that Susan Merrill, head of enforcement at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), will be stepping down from her post, following a period in which FINRA’s lax enforcement of its large member broker-dealers and its failure to catch the Madoff and Stanford Ponzi schemes have raised serious questions about the organization’s regulatory effectiveness.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is writing to raise concerns that Congress’s efforts to reform the financial regulatory system have not adequately addressed the failures of the private self-regulatory organizations (SROs) that are tasked with protecting the investing public and maintaining the integrity of our financial markets.
The public has a right to know how the government polices the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), an industry-funded self-regulatory group, according to an amicus brief filed this week by POGO and its allies.
Months ago, bowing to concern about regulators who leave government and then work their former colleagues on behalf of industry, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it was tightening restrictions on the revolving door. But a notice published in Monday’s edition of the Federal Register said that the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) was withdrawing the new rule at “the request of the SEC” so that the agency could have more time to “effectively educate affected employees before the exemption revocation takes effect.”
For four months, the State Department has refused to say which outside experts are working for the Department as special government employees (SGEs), ProPublica reported last week. Yet, the Project On Government Oversight was able to find more than 100 of the advisers identified as SGEs in an online government database. In other words, some of the information that State has been refusing to provide is hiding in plain sight.
An unidentified tipster has received a $14 million federal reward for aiding an “enforcement action that recovered substantial investor funds,” according to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announcement last week.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is closing a loophole—highlighted by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) in a February report on the revolving door—that allowed certain employees to lobby the agency immediately after leaving.
Robert Khuzami, the former enforcement chief at the Securities and Exchange Commission, has accepted a job at a major corporate law firm that represents clients before the SEC, highlighting concerns raised by POGO and others about the revolving door between financial regulatory agencies and firms representing Wall Street.
Last week, the U.S. Merit Systems Protections Board expanded the application of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act and granted anti-retaliation protection to whistleblowers whose cases were pending before the WPEA was passed in November 2012.
A federal judge has thrown out a rule that required companies to disclose payments made to U.S. and foreign governments for the extraction of oil, natural gas, and minerals.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) took an action that regulators have rarely attempted since the 2008 financial crisis: trying to hold a CEO personally accountable for “failure to supervise.”
Years after the government accused Fannie Mae of accounting fraud, are taxpayers being forced to pay the price?
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced Monday that it has tapped a Wall Street lawyer, Andrew Ceresney, to police Wall Street. By relying so heavily on people with industry connections, the SEC can tangle itself in conflicts of interest.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has proposed regulations that would “hamstring” its whistleblower program, according to Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), a longtime champion of whistleblowers.
Mary Jo White—Obama’s nominee for chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission—said at her confirmation hearing that the public need not worry about her history of defending companies from the government. But her explanation was less than reassuring.
Is Mary Jo White—President Obama’s nominee to head the Securities and Exchange Commission—an intrepid enforcer who will hold Wall Street accountable? Or will she look out for the financial industry she used to represent?
A group of panelists convened at The New York City Bar Association last week to discuss "The Financial Crisis and the ‘Revolving Door" and a POGO report about the revolving door at the Securities and Exchange Commission.
U.S. taxpayers "continue to be at risk" from government bailout programs' reliance on a global interest rate called LIBOR, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) said in a report.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)—a federal regulator that polices recordkeeping on Wall Street, among other things—has failed to properly handle its own records, according to a recent audit by the agency's inspector general (IG).
The Internal Revenue Service has awarded $104 million to Bradley Birkenfeld, the former UBS banker who blew the whistle on the Swiss bank’s efforts to help Americans evade taxes.
A federal inspector general says even as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were receiving billions of dollars from the government to continue playing a central role in the nation's crippled housing market, the mortgage companies and their regulator were balking at more oversight.
Amid a sweeping overhaul of Wall Street regulation, JPMorgan Chase, the banking powerhouse, has often deployed former government officials to represent it in Washington.
As part of Sunshine Week, a national initiative to highlight the importance of open government and freedom of information, POGO is releasing a host records obtained by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
On Monday, we did a rolling analysis of President Obama's Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget request, focusing mainly on our proposed spending cuts for wasteful and unnecessary defense and nuclear weapons-related programs.
The professional and financial ties between the directors of the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks and Fed-supervised firms have created a "reputational risk" for the Federal Reserve System, and the Reserve Banks have not given the public access to key governance documents, according to a report issued today by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Suzanne Barlyn's latest column in Dow Jones Compliance Watch raises new concerns about the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) practices and the lack of transparency at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and other self-regulatory groups.
You don’t often hear about regulated entities calling on a regulator to be more open and transparent about its oversight activities. Yet that’s exactly what happened last week at the 2010 annual meeting of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a private self-regulatory organization that oversees more than 4,500 broker-dealers operating in the U.S.
As described in our latest podcast, POGO sent a letter to Congress last week calling for increased oversight of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a self-regulatory organization (SRO) that oversees thousands of securities broker-dealers, and is supposed to be looking out for the interests of the investing public.
The jury is still out on Neil Barofsky, the recently confirmed Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), but it looks like he's off to a promising start.