WASHINGTON - Federal Reserve officials have canceled a special meeting set for today to discuss public access to transcripts of meetings held by the Federal Open Market Committee a Fed spokesman announced Friday.
The issue will be taken up at the regularly scheduled meeting of the FOMC on Feb. 3 Feb. 4 to allow more time for the required staff work, the spokesman said.
The postponement prolongs a running dispute between Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and Rep. Henry Gonzalez, D-Tex., chairman of the House Banking Committee. Gonzalez is pushing for quick release of the FOMC records, a move opposed by Greenspan on the grounds that it would inhibit the ability of Fed officials to hold frank discussions on monetary policy.
Today's special meeting was to discuss "policies relative to future FOMC deliberations," Greenspan said in a Dec. 16 letter to Gonzalez that the Texas Democrat released last week. It was also to discuss a request form Gonzalez for access to the transcript of an Oct. 15 conference call among FOMC members about coordinating upcoming testimony before the Banking Committee.
The Fed has said it will begin releasing transcripts of FOMC meetings with a five-year lag, beginning with the records of the meetings in 1988 early next year. Gonzalez has rejected this procedure, and he has lined up some Wall Street economists who favor immediate disclosure of the information.
In addition, the Fed has received at least 10 requests for the transcripts under the Freedom of Information Act.