The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) may be forced to submit its budget for public comment if a deregulation bill for the financial industry becomes law in 2018.
According to news in The Wall Street Journal, critics to the proposed change say it would give the industry an ability to influence the one overseeing it and could result in other government agencies subjecting their budgets to public comment, like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
The NCUA already holds public meetings to discuss its budget on a voluntary basis, but the deregulation would make it a formal process. If the law passes, NCUA would be the only financial regulator that has to hold a public hearing in which the industry can have a say. “It is like letting the fox guard the henhouse. It is an attack on the core of independent oversight,” said Debbie Matz, who was chairman of the NCUA from 2009 to 2016.
The provision was put into a larger financial regulation bill by Nevada Senator Dean Heller, who said that the legislation would make sure credit union members in Nevada would have their voices heard in D.C. His provision would be an amendment to the 1934 Federal Credit Union Act. Under it, the NCUA would have to publish a detailed draft of its budget on an annual basis. The NCUA would also have to hold a public hearing on the spending plan for the year, providing the ability for credit unions and others to make comments on it.
NCUA Chairman Mark McWatters, a Republican, told the Wall Street Journal that while he thinks the NCUA already has a transparent budget process, “I appreciate that Congress may question whether future boards will continue that approach.”
Meanwhile Rick Metsger, a Democratic NCUA board member, believes the legislation will end up increasing the costs for credit unions because everything will have to be published in the Federal Register instead of just on the NCUA website.