One of the points I’ve been trying to make via this blog is that Government publications can be well written, well designed, and otherwise comparable to books published by mainstream trade and academic publishers. For this Library Journal Notable Federal Government Document, though, I’m not going to make that point. Investigation of Failure of the Securities and Exchange Commission To Uncover Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme is the classic stereotyped Government document. It has an indigestible title, a 19-page table of contents, weighs a ton (or at least 3 pounds, 4 ounces) and is written in deadpan Governmental investigatory prose. In addition, the subject matter is pretty depressing. Stings and Ponzi schemes may be amusing in movies and books, but not if you’re the one who gets taken to the cleaners. To make matters worse, this report demonstrates that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) repeatedly failed to detect wrongdoing on the part of the perpetrator.
So why did Library Journal cite this report as a Notable Document, and why am I blogging about it? According to LJ, “This report examines the agency’s failure to investigate complaints it received over many years regarding Madoff’s activities. Along with supplementary material on the SEC web site, it clearly and fully addresses the commission’s shortcomings.” According to me, as an assiduous reader of international news, there are few places in the world where a government would investigate itself intensively and publish irrefutable information on its shortcomings to its own citizens. This report was covered thoroughly by the media when it was first issued. Although few would read it from cover to cover (me included), the facts are now out there for all to see and ponder.