U.S. Swaps Regulator Is Weighing Staff Buyouts After Budget Cut

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(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is reducing services for staff members and may offer buyouts for some workers as the agency prepares for belt-tightening after its budget was cut by lawmakers.

Units across the 700-person agency “will have to make sacrifices” because of spending constraints, CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo said last week in a memo to staff. He was responding to a $1 million dollar budget cut that comes as the agency, already the main U.S. derivatives regulator, tries to assert itself as a cryptocurrency watchdog.

The Republican-controlled Congress in March cut the CFTC’s budget for the current fiscal year to $249 million, even after President Donald Trump’s budget plan called for a boost to $281.5 million. The impact of the cut, which comes after years of flat funding, will include fewer training opportunities and reduced information-technology capabilities, according to the memo. The CFTC is also asking the federal government’s personnel office for authority to offer voluntary buyouts.

“In identifying areas for consideration, the goal is to limit the impact on the mission and provide the tools and support you need as much as possible,” Giancarlo wrote in the memo dated May 2.

The CFTC’s pay agreement is funded for the current year, he wrote, adding that the agency will continue to work with the employee union to increase “our agency’s efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability.”

In December, Giancarlo reached a pay deal with the union that included annual increases plus merit pay.

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