The CFPB’s proposed 2013 budget was released in mid-February, totaling $448 million (a 32% increase over 2012). The 2013 increase is a result of the Bureau's projected staffing increases and overall expansion in operations, with plans to hire more than 400 employees in 2013, bringing its estimated total number of employees to 1,359 in fiscal 2013.
The projected budget increase raised the eyebrows of many Republicans who have argued the Bureau should be subject to the Congressional appropriations process. However, the Bureau, which was created by the Dodd-Frank Act, is specifically designed to evade such oversight because it receives its funding outside the appropriations process through a mandatory transfer of funds from the Federal Reserve. By law, the Federal Reserve is required to transfer to the Bureau whatever funds are requested by its director up to a certain percentage of the Federal Reserve's yearly operating expenses. For 2013, the percentage amount equals $597 million.
Representative Randy Neugebauer, the Chairman of the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, said "The decision to fund the CFPB outside the appropriations process deprived Congress of a major tool for overseeing its operations." Testifying before a House panel on February 15, Bureau Director Richard Cordray said the Bureau intends to provide more detail to Congress and the public on its spending plans going forward. Cordray also pointed to the clean bills of health the Bureau received during two audits - one by the Government Accountability Office and another by an independent third-party auditor. Democrat Barney Frank, the House Financial Services Committee's top Democrat, also came to Cordray's defense by emphasizing that Congress still has significant authority to oversee the Bureau's activities. Frank pointed to the fact that the February 15th hearing was the sixth oversight hearing Congress has held on the Bureau since it began operations in July, 2011.
Representative Neugebauer also attacked the Bureau's lack of justification for its expenditures, stating "When I look at what you're producing and what other agencies have to produce, it appears to me you all could use some beefing up in your budget planning performance." Neugebauer also asked Cordray to explain why the Bureau sent only a one page letter to the Federal Reserve in 2011 when it needed an additional $94 million with virtually no explanation. Neugebauer suggested the Bureau publish such requests 48 hours before it asks for funds from the Federal Reserve, with a detailed justification for why the funds are needed. Cordray countered by saying the actual transfer of funds is just a formality, and that explanations for the Bureau's spending is readily available through other means. However, Cordray agreed greater detail is needed in the future, stating "I think there is more we can provide, more we intend to provide and we will continue to ramp that up."
Democrats also noted that the 2013 budget is well under what the Bureau could request, as it is authorized to receive $597 million in 2013 and beyond, plus an additional $200 million in appropriations from Congress if necessary. Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch noted the Bureau's budget is significantly less than that of the FDIC and the Federal Reserve, and amounts to roughly $2 per taxpayer. In Lynch's estimation, "less than $2 per year is a small price to pay for the protection they will provide."