GAO: Regulators Lack ‘Outcome-Oriented Measures’ in Assessing Efforts to Increase Banking Access

A recent report issued by the Government Accountability Office found that some banking regulators lack “outcome-oriented measures” in assessments of their efforts to increase banking access to unbanked and underbanked consumers. If the FDIC, OCC and NCUA used outcome-oriented measures, they could “better identify opportunities for improvement across all key initiatives and set priorities accordingly,” the report found.

According to the report, when the FDIC piloted a public awareness campaign on the benefits of bank accounts, its measures of the program did not incorporate information on the outcomes, “which could be used to assess the activities.” The report also found that when the OCC launched an initiative to increase access to credit, including small-dollar loans, it did not incorporate performance measures for this key initiative to enhance banking access.

The GAO also highlighted studies that found that debit card interchange fee limits imposed by the Durbin Amendment and Regulation II increased the cost of checking accounts.

The GAO recommended that the FDIC, NCUA and OCC establish outcome-based performance measures reflecting the full scope of their efforts to achieve strategic objectives related to access to banking services, and said the agencies generally agreed with the recommendation.