Undoing a controversial move by her predecessor, Kathleen Kraninger, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has reinstated and “enhanced” consumer advisory boards.

“I’ve seen firsthand how the Bureau benefits from the valuable input provided by committee members. I have also seen how the joint committee meeting is resulting in members sharpening their ideas by engaging in a thorough dialogue,” Kraninger said in a March 21 statement. “These enhancements demonstrate my commitment to ensuring that the Bureau’s advisory committees are helping to improve our work on behalf of consumers.”  

The Bureau’s advisory committee program includes the Consumer Advisory Board, Academic Research Council, Community Bank Advisory Council, and Credit Union Advisory Council. Effective fiscal year 2020, the committees will expand their focus to broad policy matters and increase the frequency of in-person meetings from two times a year to three times a year. The CAB, CBAC, and CUAC will continue their joint public meetings. The ARC will meet separately, in-person and twice a year. Additionally, the ARC is being elevated to a director-level advisory committee.

Membership terms for the committees will be extended from a one-year term to two-year terms that will be staggered. The one-year term of all existing members expires September 2019. A one-year term extension will be provided to half of the current members in order to achieve the staggered terms and ensure continuity. In addition to a chairman, each committee will be assigned a vice chairman. Both will serve a one-year term in their respective positions, with the vice chairman assuming the chairman position the following year.

The Bureau also announced it will begin accepting applications for members to serve on its advisory committees. It will accept applications for 45 days, beginning with a notice to be published in the Federal Register. A separate blog post on the agency’s site described what it is looking for in applications:

  • Experts in consumer protection, community development, consumer finance, fair lending, and civil rights;
  • experts in consumer financial products or services, including consumer reporting, debt collections, and debt relief;
  • representatives of banks and credit unions that primarily serve underserved communities;
  • representatives of communities that have been significantly impacted by higher priced mortgage loans;
  • current employees of credit unions and community banks; and
  • academics, specifically experienced economists with a strong research and publishing or practitioner background.

Instructions and applications are available at cfpb.gov.

Only complete application packets received on or before May 5, 2019, will be given consideration for membership on the advisory committees. Online applications are encouraged. The Bureau will provide access to machine-readable application materials for those who are visually impaired.

The Dodd-Frank Act, when creating the CFPB, also required the creation of advisory boards to guide its work. The CAB was instructed to convene at least two times a year to “advise and consult with the Bureau in the exercise of its functions under the Federal consumer financial laws and to provide information on emerging practices in the consumer financial products and services industry, including regional trends, concerns, and other relevant information.” The board’s 25 members are chosen by the Bureau from academia, consumer groups, and the financial services industry.

In June 2018, Mick Mulvaney, former acting director, disbanded the agency’s Consumer Advisory Board, dismissing 25 outside experts who were intended to help shape agency policy. It was, at the time, part of efforts to reshape the Bureau into his more business-friendly vision and satisfy Republicans who have derided the largely autonomous agency since it opened its doors.