CFTC Chairman Tarbert initiates sweeping reorganization of the agency days before the presidential election - 02 November 2020

The chairman asserts that the organizational changes will enhance the CFTC’s operational effectiveness.

The CFTC will be implementing a reorganization whereby four new operating divisions will be created: the Division of Data, the Markets Participants Division, the Legal Division, and the Division of Administration. According to the agency’s announcement issued just days in advance of the presidential election, negotiations were completed "to enhance the CFTC’s operational effectiveness." The release does not identify the parties involved in the negotiation. The organizational changes are to take effect November 8, 2020.

Division of Data. One of the most notable aspects of the reorganization is the creation of the Division of Data. Dr. Tamara Roust will serve as chief data officer and lead the division personnel from various operating units including the Office of Data and Technology and the Division of Market Oversight. This new division will look to centralize the agency’s data functions.

Market Participants Division. The Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight (DSIO) and the Office of Customer Education and Outreach will be combined to form the new Market Participants Division (MPD). Josh Sterling, the CFTC’s current DSIO director, will serve as the MPD’s director.

Legal Division. The Office of General Counsel (OGC) and the Office of the Executive Secretariat have been merged to form the new Legal Division (LD). Daniel Davis, the CFTC’s current general counsel, will lead the Legal Division.

Division of Administration. The Office of the Executive Director and the customer service elements of the Office of Data and Technology have been combined to form the new Division of Administration (DA). Anthony Thompson, the CFTC’s current executive director, will lead the DA. More information about the newly constituted agency structure can be found here.

The chairman speaks. CFTC Chairman Tarbert proclaimed, "Focusing on our unique mission and improving our operational effectiveness is one of the CFTC’s strategic objectives." The chairman also observed: "With our organizational structure and strategic objectives now more closely aligned, the CFTC can better fulfill its mission to promote the integrity, resilience, and vibrancy of the U.S. derivatives markets through sound regulation."

Still, some question the propriety of such extensive organizational changes at the CFTC on the eve of a presidential election and with the possible changeover in agency leadership depending on election results. One long-time agency observer noted, "This seems like something that should be done by a chairman looking through the windshield and not in the rearview."

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