ABA, trade groups: CFPB research skirts legal requirements

In a joint letter today, the American Bankers Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and three other banking and credit union trade associations criticized the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s proposed study of disclosures as circumventing Paperwork Reduction Act requirements intended to ensure agency research maximizes the utility of information collected. The groups asked the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to reject the CFPB’s request to conduct the study.

Under the PRA, a federal agency that seeks to conduct a survey or collect information from 10 or more individuals or entities must provide two opportunities for public comment. The CFPB’s “research is highly likely to inform the bureau’s policymaking on overdraft fees and credit card fees, which could include rulemaking through which the bureau proposes substantial revisions to well-accepted fee regulations,” the associations said. “Therefore, we urge OIRA to reject the bureau’s request for approval of the timing study under the generic clearance process and to require the bureau to resubmit the approval request through the full PRA process.”

The groups also criticized the CFPB for not providing the survey instrument (the questions that will be asked of respondents), methodology used to identify survey respondents or other aspects of its study before the close of the comment period, which, they said, has impaired the public’s ability to provide meaningful comment on the proposed study.