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ATLANTA – The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s New Orleans Branch check processing operation will remain here, the Federal Reserve Banks’ Financial Services Policy Committee (FSPC) announced on Dec. 5. Since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in August, the Atlanta office has been processing checks on a contingency basis for the New Orleans zone. The Atlanta Fed’s New Orleans Branch, which will have a staff of just over 100 employees after the Dec. 5 announcement, will continue to perform a number of other important functions, including cash services, for the Federal Reserve. All New Orleans check employees, most of whom have been working and living in Atlanta since the disaster struck, will be offered check processing jobs in Atlanta, the agency said. New Orleans’ check staff members that plan to return to New Orleans will have the opportunity to apply for positions that may be available in functions remaining at the branch. The date for the final consolidation of New Orleans checks into Atlanta is March 31, 2006. This decision, which is outside of the Reserve Banks’ annual check infrastructure review, was made to assist employees and the Atlanta Fed in moving forward with long-term plans. “As we looked ahead, we were certain that at some point in the near future we would be moving New Orleans’ check processing volume to Atlanta. Thus, we did not want to ask staff to resettle in New Orleans only to be faced with a move back to Atlanta a short time later,” said Patrick K. Barron, first vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and director of the Federal Reserve’s Retail Payments Office. The Reserve Banks will postpone the previously announced move of the Nashville Branch’s check processing operation into Atlanta until 2007, which will provide ample time to fully consolidate New Orleans processing and to prepare for the additional volume from Nashville. Nashville was originally targeted to move its volume to Atlanta in early 2006. The FSPC said it is making this decision in support of the Reserve Banks’ strategy in response to declining check volumes nationally. Today, the Reserve Banks process checks in 27 locations nationwide, down from 45 locations in 2003. An additional six locations, including locations previously announced, will reduce that number to 21 by the end of 2007.

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