The newly formed U.S. commission to investigate the causes of last year's financial meltdown will have its first public meeting in Washington on September 17, the chairman, Phil Angelides, said on Wednesday.

The 10-member Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was recently appointed by Congress to probe the roots of the financial crisis and report its findings by Dec 15, 2010.

Angelides, a former California state treasurer, said he and the vice chairman of the commission, former Representative Bill Thomas, hoped to name an executive director sooner rather than later. But he was unsure this could be done by September 17.

Much of the last couple of weeks has really been getting the commission up and running, so that we can pursue our mandate, he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

In addition to looking at root causes of the financial crisis, the commission must investigate what caused major U.S. financial institutions to fail during the cataclysm that helped tip global economies into a deep and stubborn recession.

Angelides said he expected the panel's work would include public hearings where people would testify, although there would also be closed sessions. Significant portions of the meeting on September 17 would be open, he said.

Ultimately this is a story that we are charged with telling to the American public, he said.

Angelides said he had been heartened by the number of people who wanted to work for the panel.

It is very clear to me ... that people feel our work is very important, that the country is owed a clear and crystalline explanation of what brought our financial system to its knees, he said.

In addition to Angelides, the other members named by congressional Democrats are Brooksley Born, former head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; former Senator Bob Graham of Florida; Heather Murren, a retired managing director at Merrill Lynch; Byron Georgiou, a Las Vegas-based businessman and attorney; and John Thompson, Symantec Corp (SYMC.O) board chairman.

The Republican appointees are Thomas, who is the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute; ex-Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin; and former National Economic Council Director Keith Hennessey.