The NCUA has released a line-item budget that details what the regulator spent on its two-week April National Training Conference in Florida.
Actual costs of $2.4 million to train nearly 1,200 staff members came in under combined budgets of approximately $2.5 million, the agency said in its Thursday announcement.
The most expensive line item was lodging at the BuenaVista Palace Hotel, located in the Disney World Resort, which cost nearly $900,000. That breaks down to $139 per person, per night, which the NCUA said was below market.
Flying all examination office employees, including Washington-based staff, to Florida instead of hosting the event near the NCUA’s Alexandria, Va. headquarters resulted in more than $200,000 in savings, the release said, due to lower hotel costs and per diem rates.
According to Hotel.com’s Hotel Price Index, Orlando offers the cheapest hotel rates in the country: rooms booked on the site in 2011 averaged $92 per night, compared to an average rate of $156 per night in Washington, which was the nation’s eighth most expensive city.
The second most expensive item was airfare, with the NCUA spending $465,290 to fly its nationwide examination staff into Orlando for the event.
“Because about 75% of our staff is geographically dispersed, it’s important to bring them together into one venue for training,” said NCUA Executive Director Dave Marquis. “We typically use webinars to train on shorter subjects, but the main subjects at the National Conference had to do with consistency of application. Experienced-based courses are the quickest way to build the skills of new examiners, who make up nearly 33% of our field staff.”
The NCUA also spent nearly $400,000 on staff per diems and $309,300 on the Disney Institute, which provides customer service and leadership training.
The training focused on exam consistency and introduced a new 400-page examination manual that the NCUA board requested to remove regional differences in quality control.
Breakout sessions included training on credit risk, interest rate risk, differences between high risk and low risk exam exceptions and a special session for 200 relatively new examiners who were paired with seasoned veterans to share best-practices exam strategies.