We recently wrote about the criticism leveled at the CFPB by industry for limiting the ability of small business representatives to provide input in connection with the CFPB’s implementation of the small business or “SBREFA” review process.  The CFPB, however, appears to be taking an expansive approach in seeking public input on its mortgage servicing proposals.  

In a post this week on its blog, the CFPB announced that it’s partnering with Cornell University on a project “to make it easier for consumers and small businesses to tell us what they think about the rules that we are working on.”   The project, called “Regulation Room,” is a moderated, online discussion forum.  According to the CFPB’s announcement, the forum will close down about a week before the end of the comment period (which is October 9) to assemble all of the feedback into an official comment.  Forum participants will have an opportunity to react to a summary of the comment before it is formally submitted. 

The CFPB says it’s excited about the project because it wants “to learn as much as possible from this experience about how to get more public feedback in future rulemakings.” While we’re glad this forum will be a vehicle for small businesses as well as consumers to provide input on CFPB rulemaking, it is not a substitute for the SBREFA process (which is intended to obtain small business input before the CFPB issues a proposal).  We hope the CFPB will similarly try to learn from its experience to date with the SBREFA review process how it can get more meaningful input through that process from small business.