Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bachus Asks for SEC-Like Transparency in Setting Up Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection

The incoming Chair of the House Financial Services Committee wants to see more transparency and accountability in the process of establishing the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act. In a letter to Treasury officials, Rep. Spencer Bachus said that, in sharp contrast to the approach taken by the SEC and CFTC in implementing Dodd-Frank, Treasury has provided little or no transparency in its activities implementing the Bureau for eventual hand-off to the Fed, where it will reside. For example, he noted that Treasury officials have provided little transparency on who they are meeting with and who they are soliciting input from. Rep. Bachus asks for the names of any other persons who Secretary Geithner has delegated duties to during this interim phase. The Congressman wants a response from Treasury on this and his other queries by January 10, 2011.

Rep. Bachus noted that the SEC and CFTC are publicly disclosing the names of all persons from outside government who meet with them about implementing Dodd-Frank, as well as the subject matter of such meetings. Rep. Bachus asks Treasury if the federal employees responsible for establishing the Bureau, including Professor Elizabeth Warren, complying with this protocol with regard to meetings regarding the Bureau. The incoming Chair also asks if the officials creating the Bureau have studied the organizational changes that the SEC and other federal financial regulators made in response to criticisms in the wake of the financial crisis. He believes that the Warren team has a unique opportunity to learn from the lessons of the past in crafting a the largest new federal regulator in a generation with a guaranteed annual budget of over $500 million. The Congressman wants to know the plans for the new organization, including what divisions and offices are being contemplate, as well as how public comment will be sought on this matters. The current Ranking Member said that, since the Bureau will be under scant oversight of how it spends the annual budget, Congress needs to know the internal mechanisms the Bureau will put in place to prevent fraud, waste and abuse.