WASHINGTON - The federal banking agencies have come out with a list of standards for deciding whether to accept state examination reports.

The benchmarks were required by a 1994 law, but because federal agencies prefer working more informally with state banking departments, the guidelines are short on specifics.

"A hallmark of the successful program to date has been this flexibility to tailor cooperation to the particulars of each state," the members of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council wrote in the June 27 Federal Register. "The FFIEC guidelines strive to maintain that flexibility."

The guidelines require that state exam reports contain enough information to permit a reviewer independently to determine an institution's Camel rating, that state examiners adequately document their observations, and that the federal agencies ensure state bank regulators have enough money and staff "to achieve examination objectives."

The Riegle Community Development and Regulatory Improvement Act of 1994 directed the examination council, made up of the five federal agencies that regulate banks, thrifts, and credit unions, to issue the guidelines. But the law allows the individual agencies to use the standards at their discretion.

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