The Post focuses on Cox’s tenure here, which is perfectly fine. But I’ll point out that the GAO report had damning details about the infrastructure and organization of the agency itself—problems that presumably predate Cox or even the Bush Administration. Like this, which Tkacik found diving into the report a few weeks ago:

Investigative attorneys with whom we spoke concurred that having little or no administrative or paralegal support causes them to spend considerable time on non-legal duties such as copying, filing, document-scanning, preparing exhibits, making travel arrangements, soliciting bids for court reporters, and logging and processing documents submitted by respondents. For example, one attorney told us such duties can take 2 to 3 hours daily. Another, who joined the agency from private practice, said that investigative attorneys can spend up to half their time on tasks handled by support staff in their previous position. One attorney told us of plans to spend a day assembling document storage boxes. Because there is insufficient in-house copying capability, confidential documents sometimes are sent to non-secure outside copy shops. Frequent equipment breakdowns mean attorneys must search for working copiers and scanners, a number of attorneys told us…
Once all those internal memos are completed, they have almost no value internally because the system is run on a proprietary case tracking system called CATS that is incompatible with all their other computer systems (which are all incompatible with one another) and which no one bothers to update or fix when it’s broken, both because their old information technology contractors no longer work there and because it is, in the staffers’ own words, “severely limited and virtually unusable.”
While downloading of information from computer hard drives has become a basic evidentiary technique, some investigative attorneys told us there can be lengthy delays for information technology support staff to retrieve the contents from hard drives obtained during an investigation. For example, one attorney told us about a case in active litigation in which Enforcement had to seek an extension of time for discovery because after 6 months, only two of a number of hard drives had been downloaded…

Some investigative attorneys suggested that Enforcement would benefit from a divisionwide system for sharing information, such as litigation documents or legal analyses…

Several attorneys said that another significant shortcoming is that the investigative staff does not have access to real-time trading information… Currently, when attorneys need such information, they manually query hundreds of broker-dealers, a process that initially produces only incomplete records.

These show an institutional culture of failure. There’s much more for the press to dig up yet on the SEC.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.