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Futures Trading Regulators Planned for the Future

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the federal agency that regulates trade in goods based on their projected value, will be able to avoid furloughs during this fiscal year in part because it did a good job of preparing for the future.

CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler told a congressional panel recently that his agency prepared for the sequester and was able to carry some $6 million from fiscal 2012 into the new budget year.

“We spent a lot of time with our executive director and head of technology and our human resources folks thinking through, if sequestration were to happen, what does it mean for us?” Gensler told a House Appropriations subcommittee this month. “And so, we consciously were conservative about back-billing staff, and we let that sort of taper off about 4 or 5 percent into sequestration.”

The future for furloughs at the CFTC may not be so bright, however.

The CFTC, one of the agencies charged with implementing the Dodd-Frank financial services overhaul (PL 111-203), has seen its pre-sequester budget frozen at $205.3 million since fiscal 2012 amid a partisan split on how much is needed to put forward and enforce new rules on commodities transactions. Gensler told the appropriators he may have to implement furloughs or layoffs in fiscal 2014 if his budget remains tight.

“Fortunately, we weren’t in a position that so many other agencies have to furlough, but I don’t think that would be the case coming 2014. We just sort of have enough to get to that point,” Gensler told the appropriators.

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