(Adds CFTC no comment)
By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON Aug 1 A U.S. lawmaker has launched
an inquiry into the amount of money the Commodity Futures
Trading Commission spends on office leases, expressing concern
that the derivatives regulator is wasting taxpayer money on
In a July 31 letter to the CFTC, U.S. Senate Iowa Republican
Charles Grassley requested records detailing how much the agency
has been spent and whether it has taken steps to reduce the
amount of unused space it leases.
"The purpose of this letter is to state our concerns with
how the agency has managed its resources in the past, and to
learn how the agency plans to better manage these resources in
the future," Grassley wrote.
A spokesman for the CFTC declined to comment.
The CFTC's inspector general released a report in June that
concluded the CFTC had paid millions of dollars for office space
in Kansas City, Missouri, that was vacant. The report said that
of $5.3 million the CFTC was paying for the 10-year lease, $3.6
million was for unused space. [ID: nL2N0OT1JV]
For an agency with a $215 million budget, the watchdog
concluded the expense was a waste and asked the CFTC to review
all of its leases. The CFTC acknowledged in the report that some
space was not used, but said it would be unwise to get rid of
That is because the CFTC won broad authority in 2010 to
police the over-the-counter derivatives market. The CFTC said it
was hoping Congress might increase its budget to hire more
staff, who would require space.
Grassley said that while he was concerned about the Kansas
City lease, he also had "serious questions" about how the CFTC
manages leases for other offices.
He pointed to data showing that of 1,352 seats in long-term
leases at four office locations, only 922 seats were occupied.
In the CFTC's Washington, D.C. headquarters, he said, the
agency added two floors and a hearing room, which increased rent
by about $255,000 per month averaged over 10 years.
"The CFTC spends $48,000 per month for the hearing room area
alone but, according to agency documents, the space is hardly
used," Grassley wrote.
The CFTC is not the only regulatory agency whose leasing
decisions have been called into question. The Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau is being scrutinized over a multi-million
facelift on its rented headquarters. [ID: nL2N0PD0WX]
The Federal Reserve and the U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission have faced criticism in the past over leasing
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Douwe
Miedema; Editing by Diane Craft)