The CFPB has announced a number of changes to its advisory committee charters, publishing notices in the Federal Register on March 22 pertaining to each advisory committee: the Consumer Advisory Board (CAB), Community Bank Advisory Council (CBAC), Credit Union Advisory Council (CUAC), and Academic Research Council (ARC).

The Bureau describes these changes as “enhancements” resulting from Director Kraninger’s “engagement with current and former advisory committee members during her three-month listening tour.” In the Bureau’s press release, Director Kraninger was quoted as saying, “I’ve seen firsthand how the Bureau benefits from the valuable input provided by committee members. I have also seen how the joint committee meeting is resulting in members sharpening their ideas by engaging in a thorough dialogue.” Such comments would seem to signal a revitalized role for the Bureau’s advisory committees. This announcement is especially notable given the steps that the Bureau had taken last year under former Acting Director Mulvaney to reconstitute the committees, a move that was met with much criticism from consumer advocates and former committee members.

The newly announced changes, which become effective in Fiscal Year 2020, are as follows:

  • The various advisory committees will “expand their focus to broad policy matters”
  • The frequency of in-person meetings will increase from 2 times a year to 3 times a year;
  • CAB, CBAC, and CUAC will continue their joint public meetings; and
  • ARC, which is being elevated to a Director-level advisory committee, will meet separately, in-person, two times per year.
  • Membership terms for all committees will be extended from one-year terms to staggered two-year terms;
  • The one-year terms of all existing members expires in September 2019, but due to the introduction of staggered terms, one-year term extensions will be provided to half of current members; and
  • Each committee will be assigned a Vice-Chair (in addition to the Chair), and both the Chair and the Vice-Chair will serve a one-year term in their respective positions, with the Vice-Chair assuming the Chair the following year.

In addition to these changes, the Bureau announced that it would begin accepting new applications for committee membership. A notice appeared in the Federal Register on March 22. Specifically, the Bureau is looking for:

  • Experts in consumer protection, community development, consumer finance, fair lending, and civil rights;
  • Experts in consumer financial products or services, including consumer reporting, debt collections, and debt relief;
  • Representatives of banks and credit unions that primarily serve underserved communities
  • Representatives of communities that have been significantly impacted by higher priced mortgage loans;
  • Current employees of credit unions and community banks; and
  • Academics (experienced economists with a strong research and publishing or practitioner background, and a record of involvement in research and public policy, including public or academic service).