Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
The mission of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is to protect market users and the public from fraud, manipulation, and abusive practices related to the sale of commodity and financial futures and options, and to foster open, competitive, and financially sound futures and option markets.
Founded in 1974
Congress created the CFTC in 1974 as an independent agency with the mandate to regulate commodity futures and option markets in the United States. (Prior to that time, futures markets were regulated by the Commodity Exchange Authority -- CEA -- a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture). The CFTC's mandate has been renewed and expanded several times since 1974, most recently by the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (CFMA). Today, the CFTC assures the economic utility of the futures markets by encouraging their competitiveness and efficiency, ensuring their integrity, protecting market participants against manipulation, abusive trading practices, and fraud, and ensuring the financial integrity of the clearing process. Through effective oversight, the CFTC enables the futures markets to serve the important function of providing a means for price discovery and offsetting price risk.
How the CFTC is Organized
The Commission consists of five Commissioners appointed by the President to serve staggered five-year terms. The President, with the consent of the Senate, designates one of the Commissioners to serve as Chairman. No more than three Commissioners at any one time may be from the same political party.
The Chairman's staff has direct responsibility for providing information about the Commission to the public and interacting with other governmental agencies and the Congress, and for the preparation and dissemination of Commission documents. The Chairman's staff also ensures that the Commission is responsive to requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act. The Chairman's staff includes the Office of the Inspector General, which conducts audits of CFTC programs and operations, and the Office of International Affairs, which is the focal point for the Commission's global regulatory coordination efforts.
The Chairman's staff is also responsible for liaison with the public, the Congress, and the media. The Office of External Affairs (OEA) is the Commission's liaison with the domestic and foreign news media, producer and market user groups, educational and academic groups and institutions, and the general public. OEA provides timely and relevant information about the Commission's regulatory mandate, the economic role of the futures markets, new market instruments, market regulation, enforcement actions, and customer protection initiatives, actions, and issues. OEA also provides assistance to members of the media and the general public accessing the CFTC's Internet website.
The CFTC monitors markets and market participants closely by maintaining, in addition to its headquarters office in Washington, offices in cities that have futures exchanges—New York, Chicago, Kansas City, and Minneapolis.
Major Operating Units
Division of Clearing and Intermediary Oversight The functions of the Division of Clearing and Intermediary Oversight include oversight of derivatives clearing organizations, financial integrity of registrants, customer fund protection, stock-index margin, registration and fitness of intermediaries, sales practice reviews, National Futures Association activities related to intermediaries, and foreign market access by intermediaries.
Division of Market Oversight
The Division of Market Oversight has regulatory responsibility for initial recognition and continuing oversight of trade execution facilities, including new registered futures exchanges and derivatives transaction execution facilities. The regulatory functions of the Division include, among other things, market surveillance, trade practice reviews and investigations, rule enforcement reviews, review of product-related and market-related rule amendments, and associated product and market-related studies.
Division of Enforcement
The Division of Enforcement investigates and prosecutes alleged violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations. Violations may involve commodity futures or option trading on domestic commodity exchanges, or the improper marketing of commodity investments. The Division may, at the direction of the Commission, file complaints before the agency's administrative law judges or in the U.S. District Courts. Alleged criminal violations of the Commodity Exchange Act or violations of other Federal laws which involve commodity futures trading may be referred to the Justice Department for prosecution. The Division also provides expert help and technical assistance with case development and trials to U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, other Federal and state regulators, and international authorities.
Office of Chief Economist
The Office of the Chief Economist is an independent office with responsibility for providing expert economic advice to the Commission. Its functions include policy analysis, economic research, expert testimony, education, and training.
Office of the General Counsel
The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) is the Commission's legal advisor. OGC staff represents the Commission in appellate litigation and certain trial-level cases, including bankruptcy proceedings which involve futures industry professionals. As the Commission’s legal advisor, OGC reviews all substantive regulatory, legislative, and administrative matters presented to it and advises the Commission on the application and interpretation of the Commodity Exchange Act and other administrative statutes. OGC also assists the Commission in performing its adjudicatory functions.
Office of the Executive Director
The Office of the Executive Director (OED) formulates and implements the management and administrative policies and functions of the agency. OED staff formulate the agency's budget, supervise the allocation and use of agency resources, promote management controls and financial integrity, and develop and maintain the agency's automated information systems. The Office of Proceedings, which is under the administrative direction of OED, provides an inexpensive and expeditious forum for handling customer complaints against people or firms registered with NFA through its reparations program. The Office of Proceedings also hears and decides enforcement cases brought by the Commission.