Strategic five-year plans are a fact of life to corporate executives. But for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the nation's top securities regulator, this year's newly released five-year plan spanning 2004 through 2009 took a lot of blood, sweat and tears and includes several lofty goals. These include stepping up examinations of investment companies deemed most at risk for problems, modernizing information technology systems, more aggressive hiring of both accountants and investment company examiners, and redesigning its pay, benefit and training programs for employees.

Such five-year plans have been required since Congress' passage of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, which, since September of 1997, has required most government agencies to prepare a five-year plan that must be updated every three years, as well as prepare an annual performance report.

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