Shortly before year end, NCUA announced it had launched two new websites to increase transparency of the corporate resolution system.
One site aims to offer information about the status of corporate system resolution. “This website provides transparency into the actual and projected costs incurred by federally insured credit unions as part of the Corporate System Resolution Program,” said its statement of purpose. The other site offers details on NCUA’s Guaranteed Note Program, designed to provide long-term funding for distressed assets from the five failed corporates. Both are easily accessible via a click from the main NCUA website at www.ncua.gov.
Is NCUA in fact succeeding in bringing more transparency? Reactions are across the board, from cheers to jeers.
Birmingham, Ala.-based credit union consultant Dennis Dollar said, "Despite the voices of countless critics, NCUA seems to have done as good of a job as possible with what they found themselves dealing with in the corporate debacle. One of their biggest problems in the eyes of the credit unions paying the bills for corporate stabilization has been their inability to communicate their actions effectively on what is admittedly an extremely complex matter. I don't know if the new websites will help, but they certainly won't hurt."
Olympia, Wash.-based credit union consultant Marvin Umholtz also saw the websites as a good thing. He worried that “we don’t know exactly how deep the hole is,” but, to Umholtz’s eyes, the websites make more data more readily available and that, he believed, is a step in the right direction for NCUA.
The lateness in creating the sites–four years and counting into the corporate catastrophes–was a gripe pointed to by some. At NAFCU, CEO Fred Becker said, “I am glad the agency has finally done this, but why did it take so long? It should have been done years ago. This is a good thing. but it is late.”
At First Corp. in Phoenix, Chief Operating Officer Stacy Glidden said, “Why didn't NCUA launch these transparency sites when they were determining the future of U.S. Central products and the Western Bridge acquisition? The sites came too late for my purposes.”
The CEO of a corporate, who requested anonymity, said, “It’s obviously a knee-jerk reaction to NAFCU’s call for more transparency into the bidding process being used at the U.S. Central conservatorship. It’s window dressing. The timing was obvious.”
NCUA spokesman John Zimmerman denied that last charge. In fact, NAFCU filed its FOIA request for more information about the U.S. Central bidding in December, many months after the process of creating the new sites had begun. Zimmerman wrote in an email. “Logistically, the websites have been under construction since August.... NCUA has made transparency a paramount concern while paying particular attention to breaking down complex data and information into more understandable terms."