SEC seeks complaint automation
- By Bryant Jordan
- Jun 26, 2000
The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking for a better and faster
way to handle the thousands of complaints it receives each year from the
The agency is searching for a commercial software program that will
scan and convert all complaints — no matter how they are sent to the SEC — into an electronic record, log and track them, and permit specific authorized
users to access them using a browser.
"We want [a complaint] in a format we can roll into the database and,
with programming, direct it to the appropriate staff person for handling,"
said John Gannon, deputy director of the SEC's Office of Investor Education
and Assistance. "The goal is to have better service for the investor. The
faster we get something into the system, the faster we can respond to a
SEC issued a request for information in April, asking companies to identify
software that might meet its requirements. The agency will proceed with
a solicitation if it finds that such software exists, according to Linda
Sudhoff, contracting officer for the SEC.
Each year, about 72,000 complaints pour into the SEC — via traditional
mail and e-mail, by fax and phone and through World Wide Web forms available
at the agency's Web site (www.sec.gov).
All the complaints go into a database, a process that requires many
complaints to be entered manually — a labor- intensive, time-consuming process,
according to Gannon.
Most complaints — 75 percent — are submitted via e-mail, and another
15 percent come in on Web-based forms. Gannon said those complaints are
handled on the same day they arrive.
The remaining 10 percent — complaints that arrive via traditional mail,
fax and phone — take the most time to process.
"Regular mail has to be opened, assigned and entered into the database.
Someone must draft a letter and then send it to the firm," Gannon said.
"That can take up to several days because a lot more hands are on that piece
"I think there is some off-the-shelf software available that may have
to be customized for our use, based on what vendors have told us," Gannon