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  • CFPB releases RFI on financial education programs

    Federal Issues

    On April 4, the CFPB released its eleventh Request for Information (RFI) in a series seeking feedback on the Bureau’s operations. This RFI solicits public comment to assist the Bureau in “assessing the overall efficiency and effectiveness of its consumer financial education programs.” Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB develops education programs to educate and empower consumers to make better informed financial decisions, and to improve consumers’ financial literacy. The Bureau develops programs for the general public as well as programs designed for special populations. While the Bureau is seeking feedback on all aspects of its financial education initiatives, the RFI specifically seeks comments related to (i) the topics and delivery functions of the programs; (ii) the effectiveness of the programs, including how the Bureau should measure program success; and (iii) how to avoid duplication and improve coordination with other federal agencies. The RFI is expected to be published in the Federal Register on April 9. Comments will be due 90 days from publication.

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  • CFPB releases RFI on guidance and implementation materials

    Federal Issues

    On March 28, the CFPB released its tenth Request for Information (RFI) in a series seeking feedback on the Bureau’s operations. This RFI solicits public comment to assist the Bureau in “assessing the overall effectiveness and accessibility of its guidance materials and activities (including implementation support).” Specifically, the Bureau is seeking feedback regarding interpretive rules and general statements of policy that the CFPB determined do not need to go through the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) notice and comment process, as well as other “non-rule guidance” such as compliance guides and webinars. While the Bureau is seeking feedback on all aspects of its various guidance materials, the RFI specifically seeks comments related to (i) the regulatory inquiries function; (ii) regulatory implementation and compliance aids; (iii) official interpretations and standalone interpretive rules; (iv) SEFL guidance materials; (v) disclaimers included on non-rule guidance materials; and (vi) recommendations for new forms of written guidance. The RFI is expected to be published in the Federal Register on April 2. Comments will be due 90 days from publication.

    Federal Issues RFI CFPB Succession Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • FTC responds to CFPB RFI on CIDs

    Federal Issues

    On March 27, the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP) released its comment letter responding to the CFPB’s Request for Information (RFI) on Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs) – the first RFI in a series seeking feedback on the CFPB’s operations (previously covered by InfoBytes here). According to the BCP, good government requires an agency to use restraint both when deciding to issue compulsory CIDs and when making specific demands, because courts are deferential to an agency’s request. The BCP emphasizes the need for a balance between the enforcement of laws by an agency and the potential burden on the party whom receives the demand.

    The FTC response is notable as it is not common for a federal agency to submit comments to another agency’s RFI. However, as the BCP points out, the CFPB originally used the FTC’s Rules of Practice and Procedure as a model when establishing its CID process, and in July 2017, the BCP implemented several reforms to its consumer protection CID process. (Previously covered by InfoBytes here.) The comment letter notes the BCP’s belief that the reforms “have been quite successful in lessening burdens on recipients and improving transparency while continuing to allow the agency to obtain the information it needs to enforce the law.” In response to the CFPB’s specific requests, the BCP outlined its internal processes and provided the Bureau with specific recommendations, while recognizing the inherent differences in each agency’s authority, mission and organizational structure. The BCP recommendations include:

    • Opening/closing investigations. Increase oversight by senior agency leadership with respect to the opening and closing of investigations by staff in the Office of Enforcement.
    • Issuing CIDs. Delegate authority to issue CIDs to more senior officials (as opposed to the Deputy Assistant Directors of the Office of Enforcement) or to officials who are not directly involved in the investigation.
    • Explaining purpose of investigation. Ratify the Bureau’s currently informal process of articulating a more specific purpose for the CID and using the CFPB’s “meet-and-confer” requirement under 12 C.F.R. § 1080.6(c) to constructively engage with the recipient to better improve their understanding of the CID’s purpose.
    • Scope of requests. Use the meet-and-confer process to resolve or narrow concerns regarding potentially broad CID requests in order to avoid unnecessary burdens on the recipient and delays caused by a petition to limit or quash a CID.
    • Incorporating certain Federal Rules by reference. For the taking of testimony of an entity and the handling inadvertent production of privileged information, publicly acknowledge the intent to follow the relevant standards under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence. 
    • Rights afforded to individuals in investigational hearings. Continue to prevent witnesses from consulting with counsel while a question is pending and counsel from objecting to a question or instructing the witness not to answer (except with regard to privilege).  The BCP stated that, in addition to being consistent with its rules, these limitations are “consistent with federal court practice and are appropriate given that the investigational hearing is part of the agency’s non-public investigation to determine whether a violation has occurred and whether an action would be in the public interest.”
    • Response requirements. Consider streamlining guidelines for document submission of electronically stored information

    As for the process for petitions to modify or set aside CIDs, without providing a specific recommendation to the Bureau, the BCP spent considerable time outlining certain outside criticisms of its own process, including that petitioners do not receive the BCP rely brief given to the assigned Commissioner in response to a petitions and that the Commissioner’s ruling on the petition is placed on the public record, revealing the underlying non-public investigation. The BCP defended these practices, emphasizing that the reply briefs contain protected information regarding the FTC’s internal investigation process and the burden to redact the information outweighs the minimal benefit to the petitioner. Additionally, the BCP stated that publicly disclosing the Comissioner’s ruling is consistent with ensuring the government is subject to the “watchful eye” of the public.

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, all comments to the CFPB RFI are now due by April 26.

     

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  • CFPB releases RFI on inherited rules, extends comment period for first three RFIs

    Federal Issues

    On March 22, the CFPB released its ninth Request for Information (RFI) in a series seeking feedback on the Bureau’s operations. This RFI solicits public comment to assist the Bureau in deciding “whether it should amend the regulations or exercise the rulemaking authorities that it inherited from certain other Federal agencies.” Specifically, the Bureau is seeking feedback regarding its “Inherited Regulations” – the consumer financial laws that were previously vested in other federal agencies but were transferred to the CFPB assumed by the Dodd-Frank Act. The RFI seeks information related to all aspects of the Inherited Regulations, including (i) whether the Inherited Regulations should be tailored to an institution of a particular size or are incompatible with new technologies; (ii) changes the Bureau could make to the Inherited Regulations to more effectively meet the specific law’s statutory purpose; (iii) changes the Bureau could make to the Inherited Regulations to advance the statutory purposes stated in Section 1021 of the Dodd-Frank Act; (iv) whether the Bureau should introduce pilots, field tests, demonstrations or other activities to better analyze the cost/benefits of potential Inherited Regulations; and (v) where the Bureau could exercise more of its rulemaking authority to better align with the objectives of the applicable consumer financial laws. The RFI is expected to be published in the Federal Register on March 26. Comments will be due 90 days from publication.

    On March 19, the CFPB extended the comment period of the first three RFIs released in the series to 90 days (previously covered by InfoBytes here, here, and here). The comment periods were originally set for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register but now the 90-day deadline applies to the following to match those of subsequent issuance:

     

    Federal Issues RFI CFPB Succession Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • CFPB releases RFI on adopted regulations and new rulemaking authorities

    Federal Issues

    On March 14, the CFPB released its eighth Request for Information (RFI) in a series seeking feedback on the Bureau’s operations. This RFI solicits public comment to assist the Bureau in deciding “whether it should amend any rules it has issued since its creation or issue rules under new rulemaking authority provided for by the Dodd-Frank Act,” which the RFI defines as the Bureau’s “Adopted Regulations.” This RFI does not seek information related to the Bureau’s “Inherited Regulations” that have not yet been amended by the CFPB. Inherited Regulations are those promulgated under the consumer financial laws that were previously vested in other federal agencies but the Bureau assumed responsibility over through the Dodd-Frank Act.

    The CFPB is requesting feedback regarding the content of all Adopted Regulations, except for its 2015 HMDA final rule (or its subsequent amendments) and its final rule addressing payday loans, vehicle title loans, and certain other extensions of credit. Specifically, the RFI seeks information related to all aspects of the Adopted Regulations, including (i) whether the Adopted Regulations should be tailored to an institution of a particular size or are incompatible with new technologies; (ii) changes the Bureau could make to the Adopted Regulations to more effectively meet the specific law’s statutory purpose; (iii) changes the Bureau could make to the Adopted Regulations to advance the statutory purposes stated in Section 1021 of the Dodd-Frank Act; (iv) whether the Bureau should introduce pilots, field tests, demonstrations or other activities to better analyze the cost/benefits of potential Adopted Regulations; and (v) where the Bureau could exercise more of its rulemaking authority to better align with the objectives of the applicable consumer financial laws. The Bureau also requested comment on aspects of the adopted regulations that should not be amended. The RFI is expected to be published in the Federal Register on March 19. Comments will be due 90 days from publication.

    Federal Issues RFI CFPB Succession Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • CFPB releases RFI on rulemaking process

    Federal Issues

    On March 7, the CFPB released its seventh Request for Information (RFI) in a series seeking feedback on the Bureau’s operations. This RFI solicits public comment regarding “the overall efficiency and effectiveness of its rulemaking processes.” The RFI emphasizes that the Bureau is not seeking information related to the particular content of any proposed or final rule—existing rules will be addresses in separate RFIs—or information related to elements of the rulemaking process which are required by law. Specifically, the RFI requests feedback regarding the discretionary aspects of the Bureau’s rulemaking processes, including (i) mechanisms (such as RFIs) the Bureau uses to gather information from stakeholders in advance of initiating a rulemaking; (ii) the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panel process; (iii) the content and structure of notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRMs); (iv) the NPRM comment process, including time periods and feedback mechanisms; and (v) the content and structure of notices of final rules. The RFI is expected to be published in the Federal Register on March 9. Comments will be due 90 days from publication.

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  • CFPB releases RFI on complaint reporting

    Federal Issues

    On March 1, the CFPB released its sixth Request for Information (RFI) in a series seeking feedback on the bureau’s operations. This RFI solicits public comment regarding “potential changes that can be implemented to the Bureau’s public reporting practices of consumer complaint information.” Under the Dodd-Frank Act (Dodd-Frank), one of the Bureau’s primary functions is “collecting, investigating, and responding to consumer complaints.” Dodd-Frank requires the Bureau to annually report to Congress information and analysis of the consumer complaints it receives, and to include an analysis of complaints in its semi-annual reports to the president and certain congressional committees. In addition to its specific statutory obligations, the Bureau also produces monthly complaint reports, special edition complaint reports, and a variety of reports from the Bureau’s special population offices relating to consumer complaints.

    The RFI broadly requests feedback on all aspects of consumer complaint reporting and publication practices but also highlights specific topics on which comment is requested, including suggestions consistent with the Bureau’s statutory obligations on (i) the frequency of complaint reporting; (ii) the data fields provided in the Consumer Complaint Database; (iii) whether the Bureau should supplement consumer complaints with observations of company responses to complaints; (iv) the inclusion of information related to product and service size and company share; and (v) whether companies should be notified of their inclusion in a public report prior to publication. The RFI is expected to be published in the Federal Register on March 7. Comments will be due 90 days from publication.

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  • CFPB releases RFI on external engagements

    Federal Issues

    On February 21, the CFPB released its fifth Request for Information (RFI) in a series seeking feedback on the bureau’s operations. This RFI solicits public comment on how the Bureau can best “conduct future external engagements while continuing to achieve the Bureau’s statutory objectives.” According to the RFI, the Bureau’s “external engagements” are public and non-public meetings, including: field hearings, town halls, roundtables, and meetings of its advisory board and councils. The Bureau is required by the Dodd-Frank Act to have a Consumer Advisory Board.  The Bureau has also chosen to form three advisory councils: the Community Bank Advisory Council, the Credit Union Advisory Council, and the Academic Research Council. 

    The RFI broadly requests feedback on all aspects of these external engagements but also highlights specific topics on which comment is requested, including (i) strategies for seeing feedback from diverse external stakeholders; (ii) information related to the methods, such as town halls and field hearings, the Bureau uses to receive feedback; (iii) the current process for transparency in the details of the events; (iv) strategies for promoting transparency while protecting confidential business information; and (v) other approaches not currently utilized by the Bureau. The RFI is expected to be published in the Federal Register on February 26. Comments will be due 90 days from publication.

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  • CFPB releases RFI on supervision process

    Federal Issues

    On February 14, the CFPB released its fourth Request for Information (RFI) in a series seeking feedback on the Bureau’s operations. While prior RFIs have focused on various aspects of the Bureau’s enforcement process, this RFI solicits public comment on “how best to achieve meaningful burden reduction or other improvement to the processes used by the Bureau to supervise for compliance with Federal consumer financial law.” The RFI broadly requests feedback on all aspects of the supervision process but also highlights specific topics on which comment is requested, including (i) timing, frequency, and scope of examinations; (ii) timing and process of the pre-exam information request, including type and volume of information requested; (iii) effectiveness and accessibility of the CFPB exam manual; (iv) usefulness and content of the potential action and request for response (PARR) letter; (v) clarity and timing requirements associated with matters requiring attention (MRA), as well as the use of third parties to conduct assessments specified in MRAs; (vi) the Bureau’s provision of information about supervisory actions in its Supervisory Highlights publication; and (vii) how the Bureau should coordinate its supervisory activity with federal or state agencies with overlapping jurisdictions. The RFI is expected to be published in the Federal Register on February 20. Comments will be due 90 days from publication.

    Federal Issues CFPB Succession RFI Bank Supervision

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  • CFPB releases RFI on enforcement process

    Federal Issues

    On February 7, the CFPB released its third Request for Information (RFI) in a series seeking feedback on the bureau’s operations.  This RFI solicits public comment on “information to help assess the overall efficiency and effectiveness of [the bureau’s] processes related to the enforcement of federal consumer financial law.” The RFI broadly requests feedback on all aspects of the enforcement process but also highlights specific topics on which comment is requested, including (i) timing and frequency of communication from the Bureau during investigations, including information about the status of the investigation; (ii) length of investigations; (iii) the Notice and Opportunity to Respond and Advise (NORA) process, including whether invocation of the NORA should be mandatory and whether the bureau should afford subjects of potential enforcement actions the right to make an in-person presentation to bureau personnel prior to the bureau determining whether to initiate legal proceedings; (iv) civil money penalty (CMP) amounts, including whether the bureau should adopt a CMP matrix; (v) the standard provisions of consent orders; and (vi) how the bureau should coordinate its enforcement activity with federal or state agencies with overlapping jurisdictions. The RFI is expected to be published in the Federal Register on February 12. Comments will be due 60 days from publication.

    InfoBytes coverage of previous RFIs can be found here and here.  

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