‘Roundtables’ of trade, consumer groups give feedback on two of top three RFI topics, bureau says

Two out of the top three topic areas of the recently concluded “call for evidence” by the federal consumer financial protection agency about how it is performing its role were the subject of roundtables held by the agency with financial trade and consumer groups about the dozen “requests for information” issued by the agency, according to a July 26 blog post.

In a post on the blog of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (BCFP, formerly known as the CFPB), the agency said three roundtables were held “recently” (no dates given) on topics including supervision and enforcement, the consumer complaint database, and rulemaking.

The first two topics listed ranked first and second, respectively, in the number of comments received in response to 12 topics addressed in “requests for information” (RFI) issued by the bureau from January through April. The comment period for the final RFI closed July 16.

The “supervision” RFI generated 55,049 comments (or 62.2% of all comments generated by the RFIs), the most generated among the dozen comment calls. The “consumer complaint” RFI produced 23,262 comments – the second-most comments received (or 26.3% of all comments).

But the third area specifically cited in the blog post – “rulemaking” – ranked seventh in the number of comments received, with 152 (or 0.17% of all comments received).

The blog post gave no indication why those three subject areas were discussed, or why they were singled out in the post, especially since other RFI topics receiving many more comments were not mentioned.

For example, ranked third in the number of comments received, at 8,023 (9.1%), was the RFI on “civil investigative demands,” which are subpoena-like tools often used by consumer protection offices and which tend to be expansive, typically seeking specified documents.

The only other RFI to generate more than 1,000 comments was the final one issued (and for which the comment period recently closed) on “consumer complaint and consumer inquiry handling processes.” That RFI produced 1,056 responses (1.2% of the total).

The dozen RFIs generated a total of 88,564 comments, according to tallies posted on Regulations.gov, a federal webpage supporting the federal rulemaking process.

The RFIs were issued following a Jan. 17 announcement by Acting BCFP Director John “Mick” Mulvaney that the agency would be issuing the call for “evidence” of the agency’s functions in performing its role through the RFIs to give the public an opportunity to provide feedback and suggest ways to “improve outcomes for both consumers and covered entities.”

For the recent roundtables, the bureau said participants were drawn from 29 different financial services trade associations (for the first two discussion groups), and from 25 community and consumer groups (for the third group). The blog post did not list names of the groups that participated.

The roundtables were held, the bureau said, at its headquarters in Washington, and were hosted by Mulvaney and Acting Deputy Director Brian Johnson, along with senior staff.

“Participants at the roundtables offered a diversity of perspectives and valuable insights into the various issues the RFIs addressed,” the blog post states. “The Bureau looks forward to continuing engagement with its stakeholders through roundtables such as these, as well as other outreach activities to seek feedback on the Bureau’s approach to its work.”

In June, Mulvaney disbanded the memberships of its three “advisory councils” to the bureau. The consumer, bank and credit union advisory panels that provide industry input and advice to the agency would be reconstituted to “new, smaller memberships,” the bureau said in a blog post. To date, no new memberships have been announced.

Bureau roundtables seek public input