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WASHINGTON-From cell phones to the Internet to Palm Pilots, technology is changing the way credit unions do business with their members, lawmakers, and regulators. CUNA Associate General Counsel and Senior Vice President for Regulatory Advocacy Mary Dunn explained that while technology has made it easier to exchange information in a timely manner and facilitates some activities, it increases her workload. “I think it makes our job at CUNA a little bit more comprehensive, but I think it makes it easier for the credit unions because they can see all in one location what materials we’ve got. They can see what issues are current and what are the controversial concerns that maybe they hadn’t thought about that they need to be aware of,” she said. CUNA is able to keep their members informed on regulatory issues through various electronic deliveries, including its RegWatch e-newsletter. The trade group also uses Operation Comment, not only to facilitate members’ comments, but also to track the number of responses, post their own comment letters, and notify members of issues out for public comment. On the compliance side, CUNA Associate General Counsel and Senior Vice President for Compliance Kathy Thompson listed COBWEB-Compliance Brainstorming on the Web-as an important tool CUNA offers its members where the community can share compliance concerns and solutions online. However, CUNA’s E-Guide appears to be the most attractive of all CUNA’s online tools for members, receiving the most hits of any of CUNA’s `members only’ sites. The guide includes all relevant laws, regulations, opinion letters, CUNA news articles, and letters to credit unions available, as well as other resources. Finally, CUNA’s regulatory department also offers Compliance Challenge. “It’s a good way to bring home some of the practical side to [compliance issues],” Thompson explained. Dunn concluded, “I think the advantage is they can see in one location, not only all the issues that are coming down the pike that they need to be interested in, but what’s CUNA’s position that we developed with input from credit unions from our different subcommittees, as appropriate, and our policymakers.” NAFCU Director of Regulatory Compliance Linda Dent said for her, the necessity to become an expert in technology regarding regulatory compliance topics is not as “dramatic” as one might think. She is able to rely on NAFCU’s technology experts in those areas. But, she admits, there is definitely more involved in maintaining up-to-date material. “In many ways, it’s actually made our job easier because we can actually get the information to our members easier.[but] from one perspective, you have to constantly refresh and update information,” she explained. CUNA’s Dunn said the group takes advantage of its membership in the Banking Information Technology Secretariat to help identify technology issues. She added that she could possibly see an Internet-based credit union in the not-too-distant future. As technology has made disseminating information easier, it has also made responding to e-mailed questions more difficult. Dent said she prefers to respond to members with more complex questions by phone, because she prefers the instant feedback; she explained that on the phone she can immediately tell if the caller understands her response or not. With e-mail, you have to anticipate follow up questions, she said. For NAFCU Senior Vice President and General Counsel Bill Donovan, who has worked for NAFCU since 1979, technology is a blessing and a curse because, not only does it help credit unions exchange information quickly, credit unions’ opponents have the same advantages. “What has changed most significantly, really, is the ability to assemble data, to manipulate data, to communicate, and to do all of those things in a very short period of time,” Donovan commented. “Twenty-five years ago, people were not using computers to communicate. You didn’t have e-mail and so you were using the traditional postal service to deliver items on a routine basis. Computers weren’t readily available to gather data and to analyze data.” Particularly after the terrorist and anthrax attacks in 2001, technology has aided legislative efforts. “Phones tend to ring at inconvenient times,” CUNA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs John McKechnie said, “whereas e-mails, sometimes people get them, they can respond to them while they can. They can respond to them while they’re doing something else. A lot of staff seem to prefer e-mail communications.” He emphasized that electronic communications cannot replace personal relationships. McKechnie praised CUNA’s Project Zip Code, a program that compiles members by zip code, for its uniqueness and versatility. “It really does, I think, provide a really strong link between Congress and the credit union movement that I think very few other groups in Washington, if any, have that,” he said. CUNA Political Director Karen Kincer explained, “The numbers really hit home with the congressmen.” CUNA also uses its Grassroots Action Center to help generate e-mails to Congress-more than 4,000 in the last few months of the 107th Congress. “I don’t think we would have gotten 4,000 paper letters to Congress in the span of three months,” CUNA Director of Political Programs Pat Raymond said. NAFCU Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Brad Thaler said he felt technology had especially aided the organization’s communication with the Hill. It is easy for NAFCU to e-mail suggested legislative language to the appropriate staffers or vice versa, he explained. Modern technology has also helped NAFCU stay in touch with its members, Thaler stressed. “As a direct membership organization, when a NAFCU member can get on their computer and shoot out an e-mail with a legislative question,” he said. NAFCU is also able to quickly collect information from a large number of people as opposed to calling. NAFCU’s recent overhaul of its Web site, Thaler said, provides “one stop shopping” that members appreciate. From NAFCU’s Web site, members can contact their lawmakers, find background information on them, and obtain more information on credit union-related issues. “Technology has helped make the world smaller,” Thaler observed. [email protected]

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