ARLINGTON, Va. – After several months of work, NASCUS has completed the design of the data collection questionnaire it will use to collect information from state regulators and, where appropriate, state-chartered credit unions in response to the request from the House Ways and Means Committee.

The online questionnaire includes a combination of yes/no and open-ended questions that address the four areas the committee wants information on concerning the state-chartered credit union system-membership, executive compensation, CUSOs and Unrelated Business Income Tax.

NASCUS has been working with software developer PCi out of Boston on the questionnaire development. Kate Hartig, director of communications for NASCUS said PCi informed the association both its Fair Lending Wiz and CRA Wiz program will give the necessary information. She added that regulators in Connecticut and Massachusetts already have access to the latter software.

“When we formed our task force we wanted to come up with the most cost effective and least disruptive way for state agencies and credit unions to collect the necessary information. We think the questionnaire will take about an hour to complete,” said NASCUS President/CEO Mary Martha Fortney.

She added that the association “expects full participation from the state credit union system.” Initially there was uncertainty whether all the state regulators would be able to participate because of confidentiality concerns since some state laws prohibit the sharing of information. To address that, in those states where the agency cannot share the information, Fortney explained their state-chartered CUs will work with other state regulators to provide the information. Fortney said a statistician will assist in deriving a representative sample of credit unions in those states.

The data collection is expected to start at the end of August.

NASCUS has kept in close contact with the House Ways & Means Committee since April when it first received the letter from committee Chairman Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) requesting the data collection from state regulators on a representative sample of credit unions they regulate. The association has regularly apprised the committee of its progress as it’s gone through the formalization of the project, and as recently as the week of July 10 it gave them a formal status update.

All the collected data will be funneled to NASCUS, which is serving as a clearing house and is responsible for writing a report on the data. Fortney said the report will be in an aggregate form of what the state credit union system looks like. However, she added, “if a regulator wants to add something about their particular state, they’ll be able to file an addendum to the report.”

She continued, “We’ll have to help the committee understand the dual chartering system and the variances of the system. There’s always a need for reemphasis of the importance of the dual chartering system, a re-education with new staff and new members of Congress. The audience is different.”

Fortney said she wasn’t sure how long the collection will take or how long NASCUS will need to complete the report, but the association let the committee know that NASCUS will not meet the Sept. 1 deadline.

“We’ve been upfront with the committee, and I think they recognize the project as being ambitious. They understand what we’re doing and appreciate that because we’re doing a representative sample of credit unions that it’s taking longer.”

In related news, NASCUS met with GAO staff at the end of June to discuss the data collection project. Fortney said the GAO wanted to understand the methodology the association was using since they’re involved with the federal credit union data collection project. Fortney said, “It was our opportunity to help GAO understand what we are doing.” -