The CFTC, one of the smallest of the federal agencies, will face the scrutiny of four congressional committees the week of Feb. 20, as the Hill reviews budget requests and decides whether or not to renew the agency's operating authority.
An aide to the Senate Agriculture Committee, which has oversight authority for the commission, said in Chicago earlier this week that a General Accounting Office audit of the CFTC is strongly critical.
The initial GAO findings "indicted the agency in many areas," Dale Stansbury, a committee economist, told a meeting of agricultural analysts. He said the criticisms center on management problems and the failure to set priorities.
The GAO study originally was scheduled to be sent to the CFTC in draft form in December and to be completed in February in advance of March reauthorization hearings.
Instead, the GAO says the report will not be completed until sometime in March - but the committees scheduled hearings on the agency for late February, thus depriving the commission of a chance to see the charges before it has to answer them.
GAO Comptroller General Elmer Staats is scheduled to testify on the basis of the unpublished report at the first hearing on Feb. 20.
Commission officials plan to discuss the various reauthorization bills pending in Congress on Friday, but three of the five commissioners want to close the session to the public and media, hwile Chairman William T. Bagley is pushing for an open hearing.
Bagley told commissioners at a regular session Tuesday that he would boycott the reauthorization meeting if it were held behind closed doors.