The House Banking Committee approved a bill Thursday that would give thrift and credit union regulators more power to address year-2000 computer problems.

The measure, sponsored by Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach, would let the Office of Thrift Supervision and the National Credit Union Administration examine vendors that supply software and data processing services. Bank regulators already have this power.

An amendment sponsored by Reps. Richard Baker, R-La., and Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., would strip the NCUA of this authority on Dec. 31, 2001. The OTS would retain the added examination power.

OTS Director Ellen S. Seidman complained that the agency currently is forced to rely on savings associations to get a vendor's consent to examinations. "On several occasions, the OTS examination staff has had to spend considerable time negotiating access to service provider premises, significantly delaying the examination process," she said.

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