WASHINGTON-On the coat tails of a related announcement by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., CUNA has suggested that NCUA expand the role of the agency's ombudsman. Carol Bullock presently serves in the position at. CUNA's Examination and Supervision Subcommittee has long supported this change, CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica wrote in a letter to NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar, "and would encourage NCUA to consider a similar move to assist federal credit unions." Specifically, CUNA wants NCUA's ombudsman to be more of a prominent figure at the agency, Mica said. He pointed out that CUNA, as well as other organizations, have external consultants provide an objective review of the shop. Currently, the ombudsman investigates external complaints and recommends solutions related to regulatory issues that cannot be resolved at the regional level. A few exceptions to the ombudsman's authorities include situations subject to formal review set forth in regulation or IRPS; involving an enforcement action where a notice of charges has been filed; in litigation; involving a conservatorship or liquidation; or with the jurisdiction of the Office of the Inspector General. "The ombudsman will make recommendations to appropriate agency officials for systemic changes to deal with recurring problems revealed through investigations," according to NCUA's Web site. Documentation that is confidential in nature gathered for an investigation will not be disclosed outside the ombudsman's office. CUNA also plans to coordinate with state regulators on the issue, according to the letter. Under the recommendation being developed at FDIC to alter the composition of the Supervisory Appeals Review Committee (SARC), the ombudsman would be removed from the SARC, which would seemingly weaken the position. However, the ombudsman would then be conducting independent review and analysis of appeals of material supervisory decisions. If the suggestion is approved by the FDIC Board, it would actually grant the ombudsman greater authorities. The SARC then could accept or reject the ombudsman's recommendation on an appeal but the ombudsman's authority to conduct a review and analysis of an appeal is wholly independent from the supervisory process. The FDIC is expected to take up the issue in September. [email protected]

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