As a result of mounting pressure from industry trade groups and members of Congress, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has decided to open up its previously closed-door meetings to the public.
The bureau announced on Tuesday that the public would be able to attend meetings of its Community Bank Advisory Council, the Credit Union Advisory Council, Academic Research Council and the Consumer Advisory Board. Alternatively, the public can watch live streams of these meetings online.
The CFPB said the change in policy is intended ‘to provide more transparency’ into its operations.
‘Since establishing our Consumer Advisory Board and councils in 2012, these groups have provided us with information about emerging trends and practices, allowed us to hear directly from small financial institutions, and the Academic Research Council has provided technical and scientific advice to our Office of Research,’ says Delicia Hand, staff director for the Consumer Advisory Board and councils, in a blog post. ‘From their establishment, we've been committed to providing transparency into these interactions by providing membership information, meeting summaries and notices of meetings, among other things.
‘Some stakeholders have requested even more openness, however – and we've taken those requests to heart,’ she adds. ‘To provide more transparency and to be responsive to the requests we've received, we're changing the format of our board and council meetings and opening these full meetings to the public. Starting with our June 18 meeting, the public may attend (or watch online) the full Consumer Advisory Board and council meetings – the same way most other agencies allow under the Federal Advisory Committee Act.’
During the June 18 meeting, CFPB Director Richard Cordray is scheduled to discuss ‘trends and themes in the mortgage market and new resources available to consumers looking to buy a home.’
Of course, there is nothing stopping the CFPB from discussing sensitive matters in executive session. It's just that its regular meetings now need to be open to the public.
Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., who had been rebuffed when he tried to attend one of the CFPB's meetings earlier this year, says he is pleased with the CFPB's decision.
‘I am very pleased that the CFPB heeded not just my calls for more transparency, but the American people's as well,’ Duffy says in a statement. ‘Opening these meetings to the public is the right thing to do.’
Duffy introduced a bill in March that would have ensured provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act applied to the CFPB and its advisory committee meetings.