The Washington Post

Did SEC leasing decision stem from a ‘WAG’ or a ‘SWAG’?

An inspector general’s report concluding that the SEC badly mismanaged a $557 million downtown Washington office lease left a burning question unanswered.

Was the allegedly bungled decision to lease the space based on a “WAG” or a “SWAG?”

Or perhaps one of each?

According to the report’s executive summary, an SEC employee told investigators that one of the factors that guided the agency was merely a “WAG.”

Official translation: “wild-ass guess.”

But a footnote on page 26 of the report gives a different account.

According to the footnote, in an e-mail last year, an SEC employee described certain estimates as “very much SWAG projections.”

The employee later testified that SWAG stood for “stupid wild-ass guess.”

SEC inspector general H. David Kotz could not be reached for comment.

The report did not name the employee(s) who used the acronyms.

The IG reported that the SEC might have violated federal law when it leased space in a building called Constitution Center in anticipation of adding 800 employees.

The agency planned on expanding its staff after Congress broadened its responsibilities, but Congress did not deliver the funding needed to pay for the hiring.

The SEC is now locked in a dispute with the owner of the office building. The firm claims the SEC owes it damages of $94 million.

UPDATE 5:05 p.m.: Inspector General Kotz cleared up the mystery, explaining that his investigation gathered evidence about two different instances of “wild-ass”guesswork – one “WAG” and one “SWAG.”

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