United States

CFPB reorganizes and asks for supervision input


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) has published a series of requests for information (RFI) seeking comments from the public on the Bureau’s enforcement and supervision practices. The most-recent RFI, published on Feb. 21, 2018, focuses on public and nonpublic external engagements such as field hearings, town halls, roundtables and meetings of the advisory board and councils. An earlier RFI was published Feb. 7, 2018, seeking public comment on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Bureau’s supervision program.

These requests are occurring in response to Acting Director Mick Mulvaney’s initiative to ensure the Bureau is properly fulfilling its mandate to protect consumers. “In this new year, and under new leadership, it is natural for the Bureau to critically examine its policies and practices to ensure they align with the Bureau’s statutory mandate,” Mulvaney said in a statement.

In a related move, in early February, Director Mulvaney moved the Bureau’s Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity from the Supervision, Enforcement and Fair Lending Division to the director’s office where it will become part of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Fairness. Fair lending enforcement powers will remain within the Supervision, Enforcement and Fair Lending Division while the Office of Equal Opportunity and Fairness will focus on advocacy, coordination and education.

Proponents of this move say it will eliminate duplicative staff and supervision at the Bureau with the ultimate goal of streamlining the large agency. Critics, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, say, “Mulvaney is putting the Office of Fair Lending under his control so that he can weaken it.” Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to Director Mulvaney demanding he turn over all documents related to this decision and asking him to respond to questions raised as a result of the move by March 1, 2018.   

While the long-term effects of Acting Director Mulvaney’s changes cannot yet be determined, financial institutions should be aware that the CFPB’s behavior may be changing under his leadership. Department reorganization and requests for public information on the supervision and enforcement process are signs that an alternative approach is emerging.