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Removing Barriers Blog

Understanding the Importance and Benefit of the CFPB’s Ex Parte Policy
Posted July 29, 2016 by CUNA Advocacy

Shortly after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) stood up, it released a bulletin outlining rules for ex parte presentations on pending regulations.  The policy is intended “to provide for open development of rules and to encourage full public participation in rulemaking action.”  And, it essentially requires stakeholders to submit a summary of any presentation or conversation with a decision-maker at the CFPB on a pending regulation.  If you’ve been in a meeting with decision-making CFPB staff on a pending regulation (one that has been proposed but not yet finalized), more likely than not, they have noted at the outset or during the course of the conversation that the discussion may trigger the ex parte disclosure requirements.

The first few times this happened to me, I came away with the impression that the CFPB was utilizing this rule to discourage discussion.  It was almost as if they were saying to me, “You better be careful or else we’re going to have to put this on the record.”  And, I’ve heard from credit union advocates who have felt the same way.  The thing that I’ve never felt the CFPB staff understands is that I want our advocacy efforts on the record because I want CUNA/League members to know how we are fighting for them and those they serve.  And, importantly, I want what the record to reflect any inconsistencies with what is said, and what is in the public domain.

Just this week in the CFPB's Ombudsman's Office Mid-Year update, it expressed concerns about the ex parte process. The report states that some groups shared with the Ombudsman’s Office their inability to locate documents memorializing ex parte communications regarding the Bureau’s proposed rules or mentioned noticeable variance in the timeframes between the communications and their posting. The Ombudsman reviewed the CFPB’s ex parte policy and current process for memorializing communications and made recommendations to the CFPB to standardize the process.

When you are at the CFPB and someone discloses that the ex parte rules may apply, don’t be intimidated by it.  Rather, embrace it knowing that it means you’re not only going to have your say, but that you are talking to a decision-maker and there will be a record of your conversation.    

--Ryan Donovan