ALEXANDRIA, Va.-NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar is finally pulling the plug on his time at the head of the federal credit union regulatory agency. As of the close of business April 30, more than a year over his allotted six-year term on the NCUA Board, Dollar will leave the agency. He submitted his letter of resignation to the White House March 31. "Mr. President, the highlight of my professional career came with the vote of confidence you expressed in me in 2001 when you designated me to serve as NCUA Chairman," Dollar wrote in his letter of resignation. "I am convinced that the regulator approach implemented by the NCUA during my tenure as Chairman has been extremely successful and reflects positively on your philosophy of building an effective regulatory program that allows earned flexibility when the marketplace requires it without lowering the essential standards necessary for peak performance from a safety and soundness perspective." In the letter, he expressed his gratitude for being able to serve at the agency and reflected upon successful agency initiatives during his tenure. While at NCUA, Chairman Dollar spearheaded the RegFlex program, which allows certain regulatory easements for those credit unions that have proven themselves worthy. He also initiated the Access Across America program to get more credit union service into underserved and low-income areas. Finally, Dollar whipped the agency into better fiscal shape through the Accountability in Management process that led to the reorganizing of the agency from six to five regions and trimmed central office operations. In an official statement to the public, Dollar stated, "Credit unions are safer, sounder, stronger and better positioned for their future in a dynamic financial marketplace than at any time in their history. NCUA is a more effective, efficient and respected agency at the close of my tenure than it was at the beginning. I am convinced that, with the support of the NCUA Board and the agency's leadership, we have risen to the challenge to leave both the credit union community and NCUA stronger than we found them." Dollar thanked the president for the opportunity to serve at NCUA over the last nearly seven years and the last three-plus years as chairman. "Mere words cannot express my appreciation for the opportunity to serve your administration in this important capacity for America's approximately 10,000 credit unions and the over 84 million Americans who are the member-owners of these not-for-profit financial cooperatives that are so valuable to our nation's economy," he wrote. In conclusion, Dollar wrote, "As I now depart after having served an additional year past the end of my official term, I want you to know how proud I am to have been a part of the Bush Administration." The chairman told Credit Union Times that he is "still exploring my options for my post-NCUA career, but I felt the timing was right to leave at the end of April and start the transition to the next part of my life." He explained that his family has been held "in limbo" for the last year since his term officially ended. Dollar also said it was best for the agency if he left now, rather than have a perpetual lame duck. "It's not good for an agency to have uncertainty at the top," he explained. The outgoing chairman indicated that a vacancy at such a small board could put greater emphasis on filling the spot as opposed to a larger board. NCUA is also not a highly partisan issue among Senators, which could speed things up, he observed. He added, "I would love to stay in credit unions if the best opportunity for my family is in credit unions." Dollar added that he has told the White House he is not interested in another political appointment at this time and is most likely to return to the private sector for his next career. The White House seems very near deciding on a nominee to replace him on the board and presenting that person to the Senate, Dollar said. However, the process is still likely to take several months and it would probably have to be paired with a Democratic appointment. A call to the White House revealed, "We do not speculate on personnel matters and we will let you know when we have something to announce." Fellow Republican, and according to several sources likely next NCUA Chair, Vice Chair JoAnn Johnson said of Dollar's departure, "Chairman Dollar has been a great leader for the NCUA and America's credit unions. I do understand and respect the chairman's decision. As we move forward, we will continue with the vision and commitment to maintain a strong, safe and sound credit union system. I know the President's staff is diligently working on the NCUA Board appointment and we look forward to the board being solidified soon." NCUA Board Member Debbie Matz also had kind words for the departing chairman. "I have been very privileged to serve with him as chairman," she said. "He has been an extraordinary chairman by any measure." She thanked him for his support of her Partnering and Leadership Successes program and his leadership abilities. As far as an incoming board member, Matz pointed out that though there is a moratorium on judicial recess appointments, the president still has that option for the NCUA Board. The credit union trade associations also thanked Chairman Dollar for all his hard work at the agency. CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica said, ".Chairman Dollar has been an energetic, innovative and thoughtful regulator of credit unions. While he has consistently placed above all else his role as a protector of the public interests in credit unions, he has also exhibited a keen talent for listening to credit unions about the impact of regulation on their operations and service to their members." He added CUNA's appreciation for making the agency more efficient and opening up its budget process. Mica also said he is hopeful Dollar's successor will be named shortly. "We owe him a great deal of gratitude," NAFCU President and CEO Fred Becker said. Chairman Dollar has exhibited "unswerving commitment" to credit unions' safety and soundness and continued credit unions' perfect record of not costing taxpayers a dime, he said. Becker said he too understands that the White House recognizes the importance of credit unions and having a full board at NCUA. Dollar's departure should "put further emphasis" on naming a replacement, he speculated. NASCUS President and CEO Mary Martha Fortney recalled, "I told him yesterday, I think he's made a real difference at NCUA and to credit unions." She stated that he "understands the relationship between federal and state regulators" for which NASCUS was grateful. For example, Fortney explained, "He was instrumental in removing the `substantially similar' language from the member business lending rules." He understood that the states could have different rules without added risk. -email@example.com
Dollar's Seven-Year Tenure on NCUA Board to End April 30
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