Credit union regulator shuffles $5.3 million in budget; changes name, adds staff to advocacy/PR unit

A reprogramming of more than $5.3 million of the credit union regulator’s budget – paid for largely by lower-than-expected employee pay and benefits – was approved by the regulator’s board Thursday.

Additionally, the board announced, it is changing the name of its congressional and public liaison office, adding four positions and appointing a deputy director of the unit.

In its mid-year review of the agency’s budget, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board said it was redistributing the $5.3 million from its budget, which was approved last fall. It said the reprogramming is largely paid for by lower-than-expected expenses for employee pay and benefits, which came in approximately $4.2 million less than the approved operating budget.

Among the details of the reprogramming:

  • $2,425,000 (57% of the savings in pay) reprogrammed within the agency’s operating budget from employee pay and benefits to administrative expenses and contracted services. The agency said about two-thirds of that would be spent on an increased number of employee relocations (which were not anticipated when the budget was finalized last fall). Some of the remaining funds, the agency said, were to be used to pay for external legal services to explore the legal structure for “complex regulations,” such as those making some credit unions eligible to offer subordinated debt as a supplemental capital device.
  • $1,209,000 reprogrammed away from the operating budget, employee pay and benefits, to the capital budget for high-priority projects. The agency said those projects include updating its online system for collecting call report data; updating the agency’s system for updating and revising credit union membership information; and funds to “maintain the 2019 and 2020 delivery schedule” for the new system examiners will use to aid in evaluating credit unions (known as the Modern Examination and Risk Identification Tool (MERIT).
  • $1,545,000 reprogrammed within the capital budget from lower-priority projects to higher-priority projects, including $300,000 from the 2018 capital budget and $1,245,000 from the 2019 capital budget.
  • $162,000 for additional employee pay and benefits costs for the remainder of 2019 for administration of the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF).

Also within the context of the budget realignment, the board approved a new name for its Office of Public and Congressional Affairs (which acts as the liaison with Congress and provides public relations services for the agency). The new name of the unit will be Office of External Affairs and Communications. The agency indicated the name change is a bow to the growth of the agency’s “engagement with Congress, industry stakeholders, and the general public.”

Along with the new name for the office come four new staff positions, the agency said. The positions include a deputy director (at the senior staff level), who NCUA said would be engaged with the agency’s congressional, intergovernmental, and stakeholder relations and who will ensure the policy alignment of the agency’s external affairs and communications functions. Other positions include a communications specialist (supporting social media and communications outreach), a technical writer and editor, and a “program analyst for external affairs,” responsible for congressional and intergovernmental correspondence. “Future year pay and benefits costs for these employees is estimated to be approximately $900,000 and will be included in the 2020 Budget request,” the agency said.

NCUA mid-session budget review, memo