The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) chief economist, James Overdahl, is leaving the securities regulator at the end of March to join National Economic Research Associates (NERA), an economic consulting firm, as a VP in NERA’s Washington, D.C., office.

As director of the SEC’s Office of Economic Analysis, Overdahl oversaw the agency’s economics program, advising policymakers on a wide variety of topics affecting securities markets including the role of securities lending and short selling, market structure issues, money market mutual funds, credit rating agencies, and litigation matters.

Overdahl’s office was merged into the SEC’s new Division of Risk, Strategy, and Financial Innovation, which was launched last September and is headed by former University of Texas law professor Henry Hu.

Bloomberg reported March 9 that “Republican commissioners cited economic analysis last month as they protested the SEC’s new restrictions on short-selling, saying the agency lacked data to show bearish stock bets contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.” But Bloomberg reports that Overdahl would not comment on “whether the short-sale rules or the reorganization affected his decision” to leave the SEC.

The SEC states that during his time at the SEC, “Overdahl’s team of economists completed a major study of the impact of provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act regarding internal control over financial reporting requirements. Overdahl also testified before Congress on behalf of the Commission on over-the-counter derivatives, and worked closely with the financial agencies in the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets on policy issues related to the recent market crisis.”