CFTC commissioner O'Malia slams his own agency

CFTC commissioner O'Malia slams his own agency

CFTC commissioner Scott O’Malia has publicly slammed his own organisation for not devoting enough funds to technology and blamed the Commission for the proposed cut in its budget, writes Joe Parsons.

Earlier this week President Obama proposed a budget of $280m for the CFTC in 2015, less than the $315m he asked for in fiscal year 2014, and the commissioner believes the CFTC’s failures are behind this.

“I respectfully dissent the fiscal year 2015 budget request because the Commission continues to make improbable funding requests and still continues to significantly underfund technology,” said O’Malia.

“I had hoped the Commission would have completed by now a strategic plan that includes a technology and workforce investment programme... the Commission has failed to develop such a strategic plan and missed the statutory deadline for submitting the plan to the Administration and Congress.”

O Malia said the CFTC makes poor use of its funds, having increased data and technology spending by 6.8% between 2011 and 2014, despite the Commission’s overall funding growing 11.7% in the same period.

Furthermore, the CFTC plans to allocate only $50m to non-full-time equivalent technology investments, which is less than the $51.1m funding level in FY2012 when the Commission’s overall budget was $205.3m, $74.7m less than the current budget request.

“Given this funding plan, the Commission will waste another year without deploying critical technology, such as an order message data collection and analysis system, a key tool for surveillance. Without this investment, the Commission will not have access to the millions of order messages that flood the exchanges on a minute-by-minute basis,” added O’Malia.

He believes the planned funding for technology will hamper the CFTC’s ability to improve the quality of its swaps data and build the necessary tools to use the data for analysis and surveillance.

Earlier this week, fellow commissioner Bart Chilton spoke out against the proposed budget for the Commission, arguing it is “woefully insufficient” to support the derivatives watchdog in taking on the responsibility of overseeing the swaps market.

“Our staff is on its knees, some reaching for the exit doors and others already having bailed. Employee morale is the lowest I’ve witnessed, dropping 13% in just the last year,” said Chilton.