By Angela Canterbury
On April 6, I met with Professor Elizabeth Warren, Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB, or Buereau), to discuss how the brand new CFPB can meet her call for it to be “a new kind of agency.” Enacted last year in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Bureau’s mission is to help American families have better information and protection and hold the financial industry accountable for predatory behavior, recklessness, and lawbreaking.
It is exciting that POGO was able to meet with Professor Warren, some of her team, and several of our good government allies to share ideas for standing up this new agency. With the Bureau, we've got a chance to do government in a new way that captures the best of technology and democracy in the 21st century, and gets it right from the start. For wonks like us, that’s a golden opportunity.
Under Professor Warren’s leadership, the brand new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is off to an excellent start in making the agency open, effective, and accountable. The website is fresh and already includes a blog that allows comments, Professor Warren’s calendar, and a nascent Open Gov Page that already surpasses those at many other agencies. Happily, they also are posting communications with Congress. They also posted an entry on their blog about our meeting, Keeping It Sunny at the CFPB (which was one better than the White House, which failed to announce our meeting with the president in a timely fashion, causing everyone serious heartburn over claims of an open government award given in secret).
In our meeting, Warren asked each of us to give her one priority, and as we went around the room, we touched on many open gov issues. To follow up, POGO put together some of those ideas we discussed with Warren and more. It’s a kind of draft guide for how to make the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau a prototype for a more open, effective, and accountable government. Check it out here.
We hope it sparks more discussion and activity at the CFPB and beyond. We’d love to hear your ideas, as well. You can also share them directly with the transition team at the CFPB.
Of course, while Warren and her staff are working to take us into the future, the financial industry lobbyists are swarming all over Washington trying to take us back to the good ole days of no accountability. The big banks and Wall Street lobbyists are trying to defund the new agency before it officially opens. We hope they don’t succeed—it would be bad news for the rest of us.
Angela Canterbury is POGO's Director of Public Policy.