Budget Woes Leave CFTC Outgunned by Wall Street

Underfunded relative to other financial agencies, CFTC is losing senior staff and making special arrangements with Treasury Department just to stay open.

When President Barack Obama gave federal workers a 1 percent pay raise at the start of the year, employees at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) assumed they’d get the boost. They didn’t.

In a brief e-mail last week, the CFTC said the cost-of-living increase wouldn’t kick in until August paychecks. While the agency provided no explanation, employees chalked it up to budget woes that forced the derivatives regulator last week to quietly obtain an emergency infusion of funds just to keep its doors open, according to four people familiar with the situation.

Under federal law the CFTC is part of a group of financial agencies allowed to pay more than the standard government scale to attract people with special skills. The CFTC is also required to have “pay parity” with the other regulators.

CFTC workers at the meeting complained that the agency had fallen behind its peers in both pay and benefits. One of the few benefits they received in recent years—reimbursement of about $400 for health-related activities, like gym membership or yoga classes—was canceled.

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