A designation awarded by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to select credit ratings agencies. It confers a high status among those firms that receive it and helps them gain traction in the marketplace. The SEC has been criticized for the lengthy process that companies are involved in to acquire the designation and for the lack of clear criteria to achieve the designation, especially amid the corporate scandals and defaults that occurred in 2001 and 2002. Those companies with the NRSRO designation are Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s, Fitch Ratings, and Dominion Bond Rating Service. Another firm, Egan-Jones Ratings of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, applied for NRSRO status in 1998, but as of this printing had yet to receive it.