Transparency, Collaboration Needed in CFPB’s Data Collection Efforts

ACA International’s latest comments to the bureau outline the importance of accounts receivable management industry input in its use of data.

1/2/2019 8:00 AM

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Transparency, Collaboration Needed in CFPB’s Data Collection Efforts

In comments submitted to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau related to its assessment of efficiency and effectiveness of its Data Governance Program and Data Collections, ACA International stressed the need to integrate more transparency and collaboration with stakeholders in the review process.   

“ACA recognizes and appreciates the bureau’s need for relevant and accurate data in order to further its statutory objectives,” said Leah Dempsey, vice president and senior counsel of federal advocacy. “However, since the bureau’s inception, ACA has continual concerns with the bureau’s data collection efforts.”

Data collections from the bureau inform decisions such as:

  • Writing rules, supervising companies and enforcing the law.
  • Taking consumer complaints.
  • Providing financial education.
  • Researching the consumer experience of using financial products.
  • Monitoring financial markets for new risks to consumers.

The CFPB issued a report outlining how data are used to inform decisions as well as a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input from interested parties on the bureau’s data collection program in September 2018 under the leadership of former Acting Director Mick Mulvaney.

New bureau Director Kathy Kraninger said, during testimony with the Senate last year, one of her priorities would be for the bureau to “limit data collection to what is needed and required under law and ensure that data [are] protected,” ACA International previously reported.

“ACA fully supports the bureau’s desire and intent to meet its statutory purpose when it pursues data collection,” Dempsey said. “If the bureau wants to ensure that markets, products and services operate transparently, then the bureau should be as forthcoming as possible when requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) are made.”

  • Overall, ACA’s comments on data collection by the bureau include:
  • Despite statements that the bureau strives for transparency, it has not adhered to that objective when data is requested through the FOIA process.
  • A lack of transparency is also evident when the bureau re-uses and shares collected data from one division with another and in doing so may compromise limitations and privileges of that data.
  • Finally, although the bureau claims to promote collaboration among all stakeholders, it has failed to share its knowledge and information within its possession, thus impeding the collaborative process.

Industry has sought and the bureau has encouraged a collaborative debt collection rulemaking process. However, the bureau’s own Data Report shows that significant data has been collected to support and develop the bureau’s proposals for debt collection rules, yet industry has not seen this data, nor were regulated parties even aware that such data was collected.

ACA’s comments, issued Dec. 27, 2018, are available online.

Related Content from ACA International:

BCFP Issues Request for Information on Data Collection Practices

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren Requests Investigation into BCFP’s Name Change

Editor’s Note: Consistent with Director Kathy Kraninger’s announcement the bureau is halting efforts to make changes to existing products and materials related to the name correction initiative and that the name Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and existing CFPB seal will be used for materials other than statutorily required reports and legal filings, ACA International will use that name in its articles and publications. Also consistent with Kraninger’s announcement “Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection” will be used in comments filed by ACA and other official documents. ACA International is also working to phase in the change to relevant portions of its website over time.

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