On our blog, from time to time, we write articles that some might view as critical of the CFPB's efforts and policies. This is not one of those articles. Today we commend the CFPB, at least on its website.
The CFPB has made a remarkable impact in its few short years in existence. This impact is evident when one spends time on the agency's website: http://www.consumerfinance.gov. I want to share some observations.
As federal agency websites go, the CFPB's is one of the best. The website hosts a great deal of information, including statistical data about the agency itself. However, as one scans the site, it also becomes obvious that the site is primarily used as a marketing tool by the CFPB to both promote its activities and extoll its virtues. There is a large amount of shameless self-promotion. For example, the CFPB's fourth birthday announcement is particularly self-congratulatory.
The Newsroom and Blog sections of the website include up-to-date news and notes on the Bureau. The director's speeches—and there are many—are also published. It seems that Director Richard Cordray spends considerable time speaking to trade groups, Congressional Committees and the various CFPB Advisory Councils about the mission of the agency and its successes. Not surprisingly, there is little negative criticism about the Bureau on the website. Actually, there is none.
From a lawyer's perspective, the website is actually very helpful. It provides a one-stop shop for finding applicable federal consumer financial laws and regulations, the CFPB Supervision and Examination Manual, notices and comments, and guidance. The website also includes enforcement information. The CFPB proudly publishes its consent orders and settlement agreements – usually accompanied by a press release. These are the tools that attorneys employ in advising consumer finance clients of what to expect when dealing with the CFPB, and what the future may hold. In fact, in my practice, I sometimes visit the website several times a day to use these resources.
And, of course, the CFPB website covers consumer complaints. The main page invites consumer to “Submit a Complaint.” Clicking on that tab brings you to a portion of the website where consumers can submit a Complaint. The Complaint Database (which we have discussed here) is also hosted through the CFPB's website.
The design of the website is clearly intended to be consumer friendly. The website is generally easy to navigate, clear and informative. The Bureau prides itself on being a “21st Century Agency”; and in this respect, it succeeds.
Maybe the web-designers should write CFPB regulations and policies…