Naming an inspector general at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would result in a net cost of $49 million between 2015 and 2024, according to a Congressional Budget Office report.

The estimates are the result of a request by the House Financial Services Committee and legislation the House and Senate proposed last year. If the legislation ultimately passes, it would end the Federal Reserve inspector general's role of providing oversight for the CFPB.

The CFPB currently shares an inspector general with the Federal Reserve, an unconfirmed role appointed by the Fed chairman.

"[Congressional Budget Office] expects that the Federal Reserve [Office of Inspector General] would shift a portion of the resources currently being used to fulfill its duties related to the CFPB to performing additional work related to operations of the Federal Reserve System," the report noted.

"Establishing a separate inspector general’s office for the CFPB would increase overall expenses for certain executive, administrative and information technology functions, relative to the currently combined OIG.

Reps. Steve Sivers (R-Ohio) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.) in 2013 introduced H.R. 3770 in the House as a way to increase CFPB oversight. The bill would amend the Inspector General Act of 1978 to create an independent inspector general for the CFPB, appointed by the president and then confirmed with the consent of the Senate.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced similar legislation in the Senate in July 2013.

If the bills pass, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the president would appoint an inspector general for the CFPB within 60 days and the bureau would designate 2% of its annual funding to operate the office. Until such time, the Federal Reserve inspector general would continue to serve in the role.

In September, the Federal Reserve's inspector general named five areas of concern with the CFPB, including noting management challenges involving the CFPB's oversight of the consumer financial industry that includes collections and credit.

"Establishing appropriate internal controls - including policies and procedures that clearly define roles and responsibilities - and effectiveness measures should continue to be an area of focus for the CFPB as the organization grows and the consumer financial products and services that the agency regulates evolve,” according to a memorandum issued by the OIG.

The five key CFPB management challenges cited in the memorandum include:

    •    Improving the operational efficiency of supervision.
    •    Building and sustaining a high-performance workforce.
    •    Implementing new management operations.
    •    Providing for space needs.
    •    Ensuring an effective information security system.

The OIG named the CFPB's Consumer Complaint Database as a key program area where it should make improvements.

"As the types of products and services expand, the agency will be challenged to manage complaints, improve data quality and maintain the effectiveness of the complaint process," the OIG noted. "Further, the CFPB will face additional challenges in ensuring that personally identifiable information is properly protected given the agency's recent decision to publish narratives in its public complaint database."

Still, the OIG noted that the CFPB has taken steps to improve the reliability and timeliness of data in the complaint database and protect personal information should narratives be added to the database in the future.

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