Last year’s ‘call for evidence’ resulted in 1,750 separate issues, CFPB director says; comments being put to work

Comments collected in last year’s “call for evidence” from the federal consumer financial protection agency resulted in 1,750 separate issues related to rulemaking, the director of the agency told a Washington group Thursday – and, she added, the comments are the basis of changes the agency is making now.

In a speech, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Kathleen (“Kathy”) Kraninger said the bureau is sifting through the nearly 90,000 comments gathered through last year’s dozen “requests for information” (RFIs) on a variety of topics.

According  to tallies of the comments posted by (a federal government web-based portal supporting the federal rulemaking process), the top three topics of the RFIs receiving comments (which generated 97% of all comments) were supervision programs (55,049, or 62.2% of all comments); public reporting practices of consumer complaint information (23,262, or 26.3%); and use of civil investigative demands (CIDs) (8,023, or 9.1%).

Of the 12 RFIs issued, only four generated 1,000 or more comments; the remaining eight were far behind, with the highest at 437 comments, the lowest at 33 (“rules of practice for adjudication proceedings”). Those remaining eight accounted for 1.3% of all comments received.

Thursday, Kraninger said the bureau has made changes based on the topics, but she didn’t outline changes based on the particular focus of each RFI. Instead, she emphasized changes to particular programs.

“For example, we used a longer-than-usual 90-day comment period for our complex Payday and Debt Collection rulemakings and released supplementary materials to summarize and explain those formal rulemaking documents in plain language,” she said.

She pointed to the proposed debt collection rule as another example, saying the proposal includes many interventions suggested by the call for evidence responses. “And we recently began considering changing the Bureau’s existing Remittances Rule in a Request for Information that was substantially informed by the call for evidence responses,” she said.

Kraninger also announced the bureau has “more changes in the works” spurred by last year’s call for evidence, relating to the agency’s formal rulemaking for the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA). “These include providing information about the SBREFA proposals under consideration to small businesses earlier, making the materials easier to understand, and releasing SBREFA panel reports – including the comments of the participating small businesses – as soon as they are completed,” she said.

In other comments, Kraninger said effectively and efficiently using all of the “tools” Congress gave the agency – supervision, rulemaking, education, and enforcement – to enhance consumer finance markets is her goal for the bureau. She said she hopes to use those tools to “create a climate where problems are dealt with promptly and fairly – and even better, kept from the consumer’s doorstep in the first place.”

She added that she is focusing the bureau on prevention of harm, which means (to her, she said) fostering a culture of industry compliance, helping consumers gather financial know-how, and consumers and industry both knowing their rights and responsibilities.

Kathleen L. Kraninger’s July 18 Speech at the Exchequer Club, Washington, D.C.