This past June, the House Committee on Financial Services reported a series of bills intended to promote greater transparency and accountability at the CFPB. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released cost estimates for three of the bills as follows:
- The CFPB Advisory Commission Transparency Act (H.R. 4262) would require all CFPB advisory committees established by the CFPB to comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The bill includes requirements for the public availability of information about activities of advisory committees, including meeting notices, records and minutes. Among such requirements is one requiring the CFPB to open its advisory council meetings to the public. At the hearing on the bills, the Financial Services Committee heard from witnesses who testified that the requirement was still needed despite the CFPB’s decision to end its closed-door meeting policy. According to such witnesses, because CFPB policies are determined by a single director, a legislative mandate was necessary to prevent the CFPB from reversing its position. The CBO estimated the bill would increase direct spending by $1 million over the 2015-2024 period resulting from additional costs that the CFPB would incur to train staff, review committee activities annually, prepare reports and provide accommodation for public meetings.
- The Ensuring Harmed Consumers Receive Compensation Act (H.R. 3389) would limit payments from the Consumer Financial Civil Penalty Fund to victims of the violations that gave rise to the penalties. Under current law, the funds are first to be used to compensate consumers who were harmed by the activities for which civil penalties were imposed. If funds remain after the CFPB has provided full compensation to all eligible victims or if payments to victims are impracticable because victims cannot be located or it is otherwise impracticable to pay victims, the CFPB can use the funds for consumer education and financial literacy programs. The CBO estimated the bill would reduce direct spending by $8 million over the 2015-2024 period. This represents the amount the CBO expects would be spent form the penalty fund, under current law, for financial literacy programs.
- The CFPB Research Transparency Act (H.R. 4539) would require the CFPB to make publicly available all studies, data and other analyses on which a research paper was based when releasing or issuing a research paper. The CBO estimated the bill would increase direct spending by $8 million over the 2015-2024 period resulting from additional costs for recordkeeping and documentation efforts for an estimated 10 research papers and other research products that would be published each year.