NCUA field examiners and support staff will gather in Orlando to attend a one-week training conference the agency hopes will improve the examination process, said Executive Director David Marquis. Nearly 1,200 employees will attend the conference, with half attending next week, and the balance attending the week of April 23.
This year’s theme will be consistency, Marquis said, both in the application of quality control and the way NCUA’s five regions administer the examination program. Examiners will attend general sessions covering a new 300-plus page examination manual that the NCUA Board requested to remove regional differences in quality control.
Breakout sessions will include training on credit risk, interest rate risk, differences between high risk and low risk exam exceptions, and a special session for the 200 some-odd examiners the NCUA has hired over the past couple of years, which will involve pairing them up with seasoned examiners to share best-practices exam strategies.
Because 75% of examination staff is geographically dispersed, it’s important to bring them together into one venue for training, Marquis said.
“On short subjects, we’ll do those via webinars, but some of the subject matter here has to do with the consistency of application, which has to be a hands-on issue where the examiners can talk to each other,” Marquis said. “The new examiners need to hear the opinions of the long-time examiners, and lessons learned are a part of it. We need to be able to talk freely about our successes, which we can’t do in public or to the press because credit union exams are confidential, and match them up with instances where we could have done better.”
Deputy Director John Kutchey added that the agency has learned from prior training conferences that experienced-based courses are the quickest way to improve the skills of new examiners.
Both general and breakout sessions will primarily be taught by NCUA staffers who have completed “train the trainer” programs, Marquis said. Employees will also complete annual training sessions required by law on such issues as ethics, diversity and disability accommodation. Additionally, IT staff will perform security upgrades on examiner laptops.
The event will save NCUA $128 per person, per day, for a total of more than $200,000 as compared to having the event in Washington, thanks to lower hotel costs and per diems, Marquis said. That figure includes the cost to fly Washington-based staff to Orlando. The venue, the BuenaVista Palace Hotel in Lake Buena Vista, is providing free meeting room space in exchange for all the hotel room business, which the Executive Director said he didn’t figure into the cost savings.
“We had to find a space with lots of classrooms we could keep the class sizes small,” he said.