The Securities and Exchange Commission is eliminating supervisory jobs in the enforcement division as it seeks to reduce bureaucracy and speed response to financial-market threats, people familiar with the plans said.

The unit's biggest overhaul in at least three decades will leave more front-line investigators, fewer management layers and about five specialist teams focused on expanding, complex or opaque areas of the market, the people said. Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami disclosed the plan to senior managers, who are explaining it to the staff this week, the people said, declining to be identified because it is not yet public.

SEC spokesman John Nester declined to comment.

Khuzami, a former federal prosecutor who joined the SEC in March, is overhauling the enforcement division after lawmakers questioned its failure to uncover Bernard Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

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