CFPB & Congress

  • Headquarters renovation: On July 2nd, the House Financial Services Committee published on its website a report of the Joint Inspector General for the Federal Reserve and the CFPB concerning the cost of the CFPB’s ongoing headquarters renovation, which the Committee characterized as totaling, “more than $590 per square foot being renovated at the CFPB’s rented headquarters.”  The OIG evaluated the budgeting and approval process for the renovations, the scope and justification for project cost estimates, and the use of competitive contracting procedures.  The OIG wrote that,
    • “[T]he approval of funding for the renovation was not in accordance with the CFPB’s current policies for major investments”;
    • Three differing cost estimates that the CFPB provided for the renovation, “had significantly different scopes”; and
    • The CFPB conducted competitive contracting procedures in awarding one of three major renovation contracts, and that the General Services Administration, “plans to use competitive procedures to award [the other two] contracts.”

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Chairman of the Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, requested the report in January 2014.  Full Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) focused much of his questioning during Director Cordray’s June 18th appearance before the Committee on the cost of the renovations.

CFPB Operations

  • Student loans: On July 2nd, CFPB Student Loan Ombudsman Rohit Chopra published on the CFPB’s blog a post entitled, “What Happens To Your Student Loans If Your School Is Shut Down.”  Chopra provided brief advice to those affected borrowers with federal student loans, those with private student loans, and those offered an option for a “teach- out” to complete the program.
  • Financial literacy: On July 1st, the CFPB published on its blog a post entitled, “Building a Collection of Financial Education Materials for a Library Near You.”  In the post, the CFPB reviewed its recent actions partnering with libraries, cooperating with other government and nonprofit agencies, and, “put[ting] together resources and materials for libraries to use in their  community.”
  • Virtual currencies: In May 2014, the Government Accountability Office issued to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee a report entitled, ”Virtual Currencies: Emerging Regulatory, Law Enforcement, and Consumer Protection Challenges,” which reviewed federal regulatory approaches to the development of virtual currencies. The GAO found that existing interagency working groups, “have not focused on emerging consumer protection issues,” and recommended that the CFPB begin participating in such groups in order to address consumer protection issues. The GAO reported that the CFPB, “concurred with this recommendation.”