The last-minute federal spending bill for 2012 represents a compromise that, like a lot of what we've seen in Washington this year, may not please anyone.
On the one hand, the SEC gets an extra 11% to allocate to its operations next year.
That's $136 million than the regulator had to work with in 2011 -- a year when budget constraints drove it to seriously consider unloading RIA oversight to FINRA or an as-yet-nonexistent independent self-regulatory organization.
But even at its boosted levels, funding is still $86 million under what President Obama has requested for the SEC and $200 million less than what the Dodd-Frank Act mandated to cover the regulator's expanded responsibilities.
An $86 million shortfall may look slim compared to the SEC's $1.3 billion operating budget, but it's still a lot of real money that would have funded activities that will now have to be postponed at least one more year.
Everything is still being nailed down, so of course this could change. The question here may be how Mary Schapiro and company might stretch that $136 million.
Will they buy technology to automatically review Form ADV submissions and other advisor materials?
Or, more likely, will they invest in computers to keep a closer eye on irregular trading activity?
In any event, more auditors is probably low on their list of priorities.