The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Tuesday released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) seeking comment on the best ways to modernize the Community Reinvestment Act.

"As a long-time banker, I have seen firsthand the benefit of CRA investment and how it makes communities vibrant. I applaud the effort of community development practitioners and bankers who work together to make an important difference in our nation’s neighborhoods,” Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting said in a statement. “I have also seen how limitations in the current CRA regulation can fail to provide consideration to a bank that wants to lend and invest in a community with a need for capital, including many low- and moderate-income areas. Unfortunately, the operation of the current CRA regulation can result in restricted resources. It is time for a national discussion on how we can make the CRA work better.”

The CRA was enacted in 1977 to encourage insured depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of their communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, consistent with the safe and sound operation of those banks. 

In recent years, feedback has mounted that the CRA needs reform, including feedback gathered by the Department of the Treasury in 2017 and 2018.

Through the new ANPR, the OCC seeks stakeholder comment on ways to modernize the regulations that implement the CRA, in order to better achieve the statute’s original purpose, increase lending and investment where it is needed most, and reduce the burden associated with reporting and assessing performance.

The ANPR solicits comment on a number of questions regarding improvements to the CRA regulations related to:

Increasing lending and services to people and in areas that need it most, including in low- and moderate-income areas;

Clarifying and expanding the types of activities eligible for CRA consideration;

Revisiting how assessment areas are defined and used;

Establishing metric-based thresholds for CRA ratings;

Making bank CRA performance more transparent;

Improving the timeliness of regulatory decisions related to CRA; and

Reducing the cost and burden related to evaluating performance under the CRA.

Comments on this ANPR will be accepted for 75 days after it is published in the Federal Register.