With Replacement Delayed, Dollar To Resign From NCUA

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NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar decided last week he couldn't wait any longer for the White Hose to appoint a successor and announced he will leave the NCUA Board April 30.

Dollar said the resignation will enable him to pursue certain jobs, including those in the credit union industry, that he has been prevented from seeking because of his position as the industry's chief regulator. To pursue those jobs while he sits on the NCUA job would pose a potential conflict of interest.

Among the possibilities being explored by Dollar is the formation of his own consulting firm with his long-time aide, Kirk Cuevas. Dollar confirmed that is under consideration but said no firm plans have been made yet.

"It's a family decision, as much as anything else," said Dollar, explaining his family has made sacrifices while he has waited more than a year since his term expired last April for the White House to name a successor. "We can leave having accomplished what we set out to accomplish when we came here."

Dollar's resignation will almost certainly leave the NCUA Board with two sitting members, Vice Chair JoAnn Johnson, the Republican appointee who is expected to be elevated to chair, and Deborah Matz, a Democrat. But Dollar said the potential stalemate situation shouldn't have a significant impact because there are few, if any, major or controversial issues expected to come before the board in the coming months.

The new vacancy should add impetus to the Bush administration's search for a Dollar successor, set back last November with the withdrawal of frontrunner Gilbert Gonzalez, an executive in the Department of Agriculture. Dollar said he expects a nominee to emerge in the next few months, in plenty of time to be voted on and approved by the Senate. If not, there is a possibility a successor could be temporarily seated as a so-called recess appointee, without Senate approval.

Dollar, who was CEO of Gulfport VA (Mississippi) FCU at the time, was nominated to the NCUA Board by President Clinton in 1997, then served for almost four years before being designated as chairman of the three-member panel by President George W. Bush in 2001.

Since becoming chairman, Dollar has initiated NCUA efforts to expand field of membership allowances, created the agency's Regulatory Flexibility, or Reg-Flex, program easing restrictions on the healthiest of credit unions; instituted risk-based examinations; and was behind the proposal to institute a risk-based capital system for credit unions currently pending before Congress.

The credit union trades had high praise for Dollar last week. "I believe credit unions owe a great deal to Chairman Dollar and his unswerving commitment to bettering the credit union community and improving the federal credit union charter, said Fred Becker, president of NAFCU. "Among the achievements we can thank him for are two major rewrites of the chartering and field of membership manual, with the most recent revisions significantly broadening FOM opportunities for federally chartered credit unions within the confines of the law; implementation of risk-focused exams and the RegFlex rule; expansion of the incidental powers rule for federal credit unions; and the Access Across of America program to extend credit union services to underserved areas.

"Chairman Dollar has been an energetic, innovative and thoughtful regulator of credit unions," said CUNA President Dan Mica. "While he has consistently placed above all else his role as a protector of the public interests in credit unions, he has also exhibited a keen talent for listening to credit unions about the impact of regulation on their operations and service to members."

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