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Former CFPB Employees Blast Idea of Closing Public Access To Complaint Database

A number of former employees at the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, including some who were among the first hires at the agency and helped build the consumer complaint database portal, had some harsh words for acting director Mick Mulvaney’s announcement that the CFPB is considering not making the database accessible to the public.

No longer allowing public access to the database is a signal that Mulvaney is not interested in openness or accountability, former bureau employees said in a published report.

“The complaint database was one of the greatest success stories of government using open data to achieve positive outcomes for Americans,” a former agency employee said, according to the published report. “It will always be a model for why improving government transparency benefits taxpayers.”

In fact, if the decision is made to take the complaint database offline, it could be harder for the federal government to find qualified technology employees who want to work in public service, the former employees said.

Taking down the database “would be a clear signal that this administration isn’t interested in delivering effective digital services to the taxpayer, at the CFPB or any other federal agency,” said Merici Vinton, one of the first 20 employees hired at the CFPB who is now the engagement and business design director at Fjord consultancy.

Another former CFPB employee told FCW getting rid of the database would undercut the core mission of the bureau, noting, “the banks were against the database from day one.”

“The complaint database was intended to ensure better outcomes for consumers through the relatively cheap means of disclosing complaints to the public,” that employee said. “It was an innovation that was low-cost, low-risk, with a high return for the public.”

“In trying to kill off the database, Mulvaney makes it clear that he doesn’t care about serving the mission of the agency, nor about utilizing cheap, efficient tools,” the former CFPB-er continued.

At least one industry executive had his own harsh words, but directed at those questioned in the article.

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