Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray told Congress on Tuesday that the CFPB is going to be more open and transparent.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) asked Cordray in a Senate Banking, House and Urban Affairs Committee hearing for his response to criticism raised by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s report on the CFPB.
“I do think there is some merit in what they said. I think that some of it was overstated in one direction but I think it’s something that’s important for us to think about and respond to, not just verbally at a hearing but think about it in our work,” said Cordray at the hearing focused on the CFPB’s semi-annual report to Congress.
The Bipartisan Policy Center’s report said there have been instances where the CFPB did not provide any notice at all of public hearings, specifically a Feb. 22, 2012, hearing in New York City on overdraft fees.
“Criticism has been expressed about the selective manner in which the CFPB releases its regulations and guidance,” the report said.
It also noted that on June 5, 2013, the CFPB’s Credit Union Advisory Council “held a closed-door meeting via teleconference to discuss payday lending practices and recent revisions to the QM rule.”
Cordray told the committee that there are areas where the CFPB should improve transparency but said the bureau has been very open about rulemaking.
“On rulemakings, we’ve been very open and accessible. In a lot of other areas, where we’re not required to do so, we have made a point to be open and accessible,” Cordray said.
Auto lending seems to be an area of considerable sensitivity, Cordray told the committee. He said the CFPB is holding a public forum on auto lending this week to make sure it’s engaging with key stakeholders.
“I think that’s an area where I would agree with some of the criticism,” Cordray said. “I would like to have a little more openness and transparency and we’re going to provide that.”
Later in the hearing, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) asked Cordray why the CFPB needs a $95 million building.
“We never estimated that the renovation of that building, which by the way, we do not own and I would rather not spend a penny on it. It has systems that have outlived their useful life including key systems like HVAC and electrical that apparently have to be brought up to snuff,” Cordray said.
“The (earlier) $55 million figure was not an estimate of what that would cost but it was an initial budget number for the first year of what we saw as a multi-year project and we don’t yet know exactly what it will cost,” he added.
Cordray also said the renovation project has been a frustrating process.
“It’s not going to be our building. It’s not like we’re building some palace,” Cordray said before Coburn interrupted.
Coburn said that compared to the cost of renovating other buildings in Washington, the CFPB building is going to cost double per square foot.
“I’ll be happy to have our staff talk to your staff about that,” Cordray replied.