OCC to reconsider June 2020 CRA rule; October 2020 components remain in effect (for now)

The agency that issues federal bank and thrift charters on Tuesday said it plans to reconsider last year’s Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) final rule and said it “will not object” to banks suspending their work toward meeting the compliance requirements that kick in beginning January 2023.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) noted, however, that those components that had a compliance deadline of last October remain in effect.

In a bulletin, the OCC said it intends to undertake an “orderly reconsideration” of the June 2020 rule, action which will allow the agency to consider more stakeholder input, evaluate issues raised, reassess necessary data, and take additional regulatory action, as appropriate. This also will “give banks more flexibility to deploy resources in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.

The June 2020 rule was finalized by the OCC alone; neither the Federal Reserve Board nor the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) was party to that action, and the final OCC rule received a poor response from the banking industry. Meanwhile, the Fed issued its own advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) in September, with an proposal anticipated to come out around .

While it reconsiders its own final rule, the OCC said, it will not implement or rely on the evaluation criteria in the June 2020 rule pertaining to:

  • quantification of qualifying activities (12 CFR 25.07 and 25.08);
  • assessment areas (12 CFR 25.09);
  • general performance standards (12 CFR 25.10 through 25.13);
  • data collection (12 CFR 25.21);
  • recordkeeping (12 CFR 25.25); and
  • reporting (12 CFR 25.26).

The OCC said it will continue to implement the provisions of the June 2020 rule that had a compliance date of Oct. 1, 2020, it said, and which were explained in OCC Bulletin 2020-99. These implementation efforts include:

  • issuance of OCC Bulletin 2021-5 providing bank type determinations, lists of distressed and underserved areas, and the median hourly compensation value for community development service activities;
  • deployment of the CRA Qualifying Activities Confirmation Request process for banks and other stakeholders to request confirmation whether an activity meets the qualifying criteria under the June 2020 CRA rule; and
  • provision of training on provisions of the June 2020 rule with the Oct. 1, 2020, compliance date in a series of webinars for examiners and bankers.

Banks should maintain appropriate documentation for CRA examination purposes required under Bulletin 2020-99, the agency said, including the qualifying criteria met by the activity, the area(s) served by the activity, and the date and amount of the activity (including the basis for full or partial consideration). Certain banks previously subject to data collection and reporting under the 1995 CRA framework will continue to report large bank CRA data during the transition period, as specified in OCC Bulletin 2020-99.

The OCC also said it does not plan to finalize the December 2020 proposed rule seeking comments on an approach to determine the CRA evaluation benchmarks, retail lending distribution test thresholds, and community development minimums under the June 2020 final rule. It is also discontinuing the CRA information collection begun under a December notice.

OCC Bulletin 2021-24