GAO Report Cites CFPB For Not Having Process to Prioritize Financial Risks

Lost in the holiday shuffle was a report from the General Accountability Office detailing how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau lacks a standardized and agency-wide process for prioritizing financial risks to consumers and how it uses the tools at its disposal to address them.

The CFPB began such a process in 2015 under former Director Richard Cordray, but ended the process in 2017 and never determined whether the agency should continue to use it. Former Acting Director Mick Mulvaney had indicated last year when he was running the agency that it would use complaint data and other objective measures to determine its enforcement priorities.

The report details the various ways in which the CFPB monitors consumer financial markets, even mentioning field hearings it held on the topic of debt collection.

Those monitoring efforts have informed rule making and other education initiatives at the CFPB, the GAO found, but the “CFPB currently lacks a systematic, bureau-wide process for prioritizing financial risks facing consumers—using information from its market monitoring, among other sources—and for considering how it will use its tools to address those risks.”

In responding to the GAO’s queries, the CFPB noted the 12 requests for information it issued early last year and that it plans to issue an updated statement of rulemaking priorities this Spring.

The report made one recommendation to the CFPB: The Director of CFPB should implement a systematic process for prioritizing risks to consumers and considering how to use the bureau’s available policy tools—such as rulemaking, supervision, enforcement, and consumer education—to address these risks.

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