"I think we've gone too far in allowing the exchanges to be so self-regulatory that it's obfuscated the need for the cop to be on the beat all the time," Bart Chilton, a Democratic commissioner at the CFTC, said in December.
As trading volumes have soared during the last decade, federal regulators eased direct oversight of the industry and handed more regulatory powers to the major exchanges.
A look at the recent history of self-regulation shows the government repeatedly raised concerns about the resources the major exchanges dedicate to market oversight, while the CFTC also experienced staff cutbacks and retreated from hands-on policing.
The CFTC changes being proposed would be divided into three groups.
The first batch would include changes to internal policies and procedures, and would most likely not be made public. A second group would involve changes to CFTC rules, and would need to be put out for public comment. The third group would result in changes to the law and would require action from Congress.
It was not clear what the legislative proposal may include, but Gensler has said the CFTC simply does not have the budget or staff to directly examine futures brokerages. Congress controls the CFTC's budget.
Gensler has recused himself from the CFTC's probe into MF Global, but has been involved in reform efforts. Gensler and Jon Corzine, who resigned as chief executive of MF Global, worked together at Goldman Sachs Group Inc in the 1990s.
The agency's own commissioners and lawmakers such as Pat Roberts, the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees the CFTC, have called for reforms, including stronger protections for customer funds.
The CFTC also recently concluded an industry-wide spot check of major futures brokerages, and did not find any material breaches of customer fund protections.
Scott O'Malia, a Republican commissioner, said on Tuesday that more needs to be done to restore public confidence, such as routine spot checks by the CFTC to make sure firms similar to MF Global are properly segregating customer accounts.
"The MF Global collapse was a huge broken window in the Commission's neighborhood. To restore public confidence and to deter future violations of the segregation requirement, the Commission has taken action. It needs to continue taking action," he said.
(Reporting By Christopher Doering; Additional reporting by Philip Shishkin; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)