The CFPB has updated its policy for collecting public input addressing proposed published rules. In particular, the bureau is changing its policy for ex parte communications, which are outside of the formal comment process given in a notice of proposed rulemaking. Typically, the CFPB collects input through written comments on the public rulemaking docket. However, an example of an ex parte communication would be written or oral feedback given directly to a CFPB staffer.
Based on public feedback and the CFPB’s own experiences, the agency updated the policy to ensure it “continues to foster fairness and transparency in our rulemaking proceedings while also encouraging candid input from state entities,” according to the agency.
The policy requires that ex parte communications are summarized and disclosed publicly, and that the policy also addresses the procedures, deadlines and exceptions for publicly disclosing ex parte input. The revised policy includes updates to state entity exemptions and procedural improvements.
The policy now contains an exemption from disclosure requirements for state agencies similar to the existing one for federal agencies. The exemption includes state attorneys general, state bank regulatory authorities and state agencies that license or supervise consumer financial products and services. “Communications from these entities are sometimes sensitive, and we believe these entities are likely to provide more frank and robust feedback if communications are not subject to the disclosure requirements of the policy,” according to the CFPB.
Regarding procedural changes, outside parties no longer need to send ex parte comments to the CFPB and post them to regulations.gov. Instead, comments only need to be sent to the bureau, which will post the communications to the public docket on the website. The CFPB’s changes follow a December report from the CFPB Ombudsman, which recommended standardizing the agency’s process of documenting ex parte communications.
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