ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Outgoing NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar is mulling over a number of options for his post-agency career but, sticking with his ethical responsibilities while in the position, has no concrete plans for his professional future. He pointed out that 10 years ago, he never would have thought he would be serving on the NCUA Board. "If you want to give God a good laugh, tell him what you're going to do five years from now," Dollar quipped. He admitted when he was approached by Senator Trent Lott (R-Miss.) about the position, he "had to do a little research." Though he came from credit unions, Dollar did not know the board members' exact responsibilities, pay, or whether he'd be able to work from Mississippi. He had initially wanted to come to Washington, D.C. as a congressman, but that did not work out, so here was another opportunity. Now, on his way out, he described leaving as "bittersweet." "Because I came from credit unions, I always had a high respect for NCUA. I never viewed this as just a stopping point in my career," Dollar explained. However, when U.S. Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary Gilbert Gonzalez pulled his name last fall from the possible candidates for the seat Dollar would vacate, the chairman considered leaving the agency then. He agreed to serve until the end of the first quarter of 2004, and then reassess his position. Dollar still had items to work on like the budget, investments, and thrift disclosures. In February 2001, when Dollar became chairman, he and Chief of Staff Kirk Cuevas made a list of 24 things they wanted to accomplish at the agency. After making the decision to leave NCUA, they "took out and checked off every one of those 24 items," he said. The only thing still hanging out there is his proposal for a risk-based system of Prompt Corrective Action, but even that has demonstrated "tremendous progress" in a short period of time. "The agency is more effective and more efficient than when I became chairman and certainly more so than it was six years ago," Dollar commented. Previously, the budget was increasing 10% a year and staffing had ballooned to 1,100; stakeholders felt the agency was spending their money without regard to fiscal responsibility. Reducing staffing through attrition was "the right way," Dollar said. This streamlining, along with the reduction in the regional offices from six to five were a part of the chairman's Accountability In Management initiative. Other top accomplishments during his tenure include RegFlex and Access Across America. But some of his key accomplishments did not get as much press as these others, Dollar said, including the incidental powers rule. "The shift from a very taking a more broad categorical approach" was crucial to keeping the regulation in step with the market place. The agency's new risk-focused examinations and risk-based examination cycle has provided two very important dividends: safety and soundness and fiscal responsibility. Additionally, changing NCUA's executive director position from a political appointee to a career post was a "very important victory," Dollar said. He had started working on this as board member, but was unable to do it until he became chairman. Current NCUA Executive Director Len Skiles was a prime candidate for the position because he had been through the entire agency from regional director to running the Asset Management & Assistance Center to the Office of General Counsel. "That's something no political appointee could ever bring," the chairman said. While he hopes the budget briefings and quarterly insurance fund reports will continue, and the agency continues to become more efficient after he leaves, Dollar said he strongly hopes the executive director will remain a career position. NCUA still has additional economies of scale to realize and can further leverage technology, he added. Though Chairman Dollar said serving at NCUA has been the "highlight of my professional career," he has a number of options to pursue for the future. After a few weeks off, Dollar plans to begin his next endeavor. One of the options he is weighing is self-employment to quench his "unfulfilled yearning" to own his own business. Dollar said he would like to be able to stay involved in credit unions but will jump at whatever turns out to be the "right fit at right time." So the other question left is what is the NCUA Board going to look like in the near-term. Dollar stated, "I'm very confident that JoAnn Johnson is the leading candidate for the chairmanship." He has made his strong support for her known, but acknowledged that it is the White House's decision. He added that the administration has made filling the empty seat a high priority, recognizing the seriousness of an empty seat on a three-member board in contrast with a larger board. However, Dollar predicted that there will probably be only two board members over the next few months but they will be able to accomplish things. "I'm very comfortable with my decision.I don't believe the agency will be paralyzed," he said. "The White House has kept me in the loop from the beginning," Dollar said. He explained that the administration ran names by him and he helped shape the questions they were asked. He feels the White House will name a nominee in a matter of weeks. Though it is ultimately up to the president, Dollar said, if he had his druthers, "I feel strongly the agency will benefit if the next appointee comes from a credit union background.I would prefer a credit union person with the right type of market-oriented credit union philosophy." [email protected]

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