Agency will focus on ‘promoting transparency’ in chairman’s initiative

Promoting consistency across business areas and fostering a deeper culture of openness is the aim of the “Trust through Transparency” initiative unveiled by the chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) Wednesday.

Jelena McWilliams, speaking at the Community Banking in the 21st Century conference in St. Louis, said the program has three goals in uniting business areas across the agency: being accessible, understandable, responsive, and accountable.

Emphasizing the importance of trust between the regulator and the regulated, she cited polling results indicating declining trust in public institutions. “Surveys by the Pew Research Center show public trust in government at near historic lows. Over the past decade, roughly 20 percent of Americans said they could trust the federal government to do what is right ‘always’ or ‘most of the time.’”

McWilliams asserted that to promote real trust, availability of data and publication of performance measures are not enough. “That is not transparency or accountability,” she said. “Instead, we must strive to be accessible to financial institutions, consumers, and the general public; understandable to most audiences; and responsive to new ideas and demands.”

As an example of a step the agency will take to promote transparency, she pointed to a new section of the agency’s public website where, she said, it will publish new FDIC performance metrics.

“Quantifiable measurements of performance, such as turnaround times for examinations and applications, including de novo applications, will be regularly published, providing transparency to the banking industry and the public on our performance,” she said. “We will also provide metrics on our call center usage and timely response rates.”

The website also contains guidelines and decisions related to appeals of material supervisory determinations and deposit insurance assessments, she said. “By making these metrics available for comment and criticism by the public, we are holding ourselves publicly accountable to high standards,” she added

In a release following McWilliams’ remarks, the agency noted its issuance this week of a request for information (RFI) on how to make communication with insured depository institutions more effective, streamlined, and clear. The release also noted that the agency last month sought comment on a proposal to retire more than half of the 664 risk management supervision-related Financial Institution Letters (FILs) it issued between 1995 through 2017, which it said are “outdated or convey regulations or other information that is still in effect but available elsewhere on the FDIC’s website.”


FDIC Chairman McWilliams Announces Transparency and Accountability Initiative