Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

November 1, 2013

Measuring Progress at the CFPB

By David Reiss

The Bipartisan Policy Center issued a white paper, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Measuring the Progress of a New Agency:

This paper measures the agency’s actions against its mandate.  It analyzes the start-up and operational challenges the Bureau has faced and the critical choices it has made. Throughout this process, the Task Force met with leading consumer advocates, federal and state bank regulators and their staffs, and regulated industry participants in the bank and nonbank space. (5)

I was particularly intrigued by the external metrics that the Bipartisan Policy Center recommends for the CFPB:

  • Are there quality, safe products available in both the bank and nonbank space?
  •  Is the CFPB identifying and responding promptly to problems in both the bank and nonbank space?
  • Does the Bureau engage consumers in a meaningful way? For example, specific metrics should track its regulatory and outreach efforts to growing minority populations.
  • Is the CFPB collaborating effectively with other regulators in both the bank and nonbank space, to ensure a high level of consumer protection?
  • Is there a healthy amount of quality product innovation in the financial services marketplace the Bureau regulates? (10)

These are all reasonable metrics, but most importantly, the white paper “recommends that the CFPB measure success as it relates to consumer behavior by finding demonstrable evidence of improved consumer decision-making with regard to consumer products.” (10) I think that this is perhaps the most important of the metrics and one that the CFPB has made the least progress in measuring. It will be interesting to see how the CFPB makes progress in this regard.

The rest of their findings are organized as follows:

  • Guidance vs. Rule-Making
  • Supervisory and Examination Process
  • Data Requests and Collection
  • Consumer Complaint Portal
  • Civil Penalty Fund
  • CFPB Consultation with Other Agencies
  • CFPB’s Authority to Cover Lending Activities of Auto-Dealers
  • CFPB Funding and Accountability
  • Performance Metrics
  • [External Metrics]
  • Internal Metrics
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