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This week, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, in the role he is asserting as the CFPB’s acting director (and facing a legal challenge to his status) told employees of several re-structuring moves. Among these, he is transferring the CFPB’s highly valuable Office of Consumer Response into the Consumer Education and Engagement division.
While Mulvaney’s statement expressed his intention for efficiency we must ask:
- Consumer Response has essentially been an independent office housed in the Operations Division. As such, its research on consumer complaint trends has been equally available to all divisions and offices, including, for example, Supervision, Enforcement and Fair Lending; Research, Markets and Regulations; and Consumer Education and Engagement. Is this transfer designed to diminish the Consumer Response unit’s important role in helping all units of the agency collect and understand the ongoing complaints that consumers raise? What benefit does this transfer provide consumers and will this relocation affect the Complaint unit’s budget?
- Why is the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity also being relocated, and reorganized under the director’s office? How does that improve consumer protection? (See separate statement on the Office of Fair Lending from Americans for Financial Reform and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.)
- Under previous Bureau leadership, each division, department and office had a mandate to regularly monitor the consumer complaints that related to that department’s functions. Will that mandate continue?
- Will the Consumer Response Office continue to issue reports with comparative data of interest not only to consumers, but also to companies, competitors and academics?
- Why make changes to some of the Bureau’s most consumer-oriented offices at all?
- Given that the budget director is only temporarily leading this agency, why would he choose to reorganize the parts of the agency without a permanent director at the helm?
The Consumer Response (Complaints) unit of the CFPB is an integral part of the Bureau. It empowers consumers and the consumer agency with firsthand information to help individuals make wise financial decisions, helps the Bureau prioritize its efforts to focus on patterns of harmful practices and helps to hold companies accountable. We plan to examine the effects of this change closely.
U.S. PIRG maintains an archive of its 11 reports (so far) based on analysis of the CFPB's Public Consumer Complaint Database.
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