WASHINGTON - The District of Columbia, like the states, has the power to charter its own banks. But when S. Kathryn Allen was appointed commissioner of its Office of Banking and Financial Institutions last August, she had just one bank to regulate. It looks like she will soon have more.

Ms. Allen took over a moribund agency with a staff of five and a budget of $750,000. But in 10 months on the job she has more than doubled the staff and budget of the 14-year-old agency and is putting those resources to work on daunting task: a top-to-bottom overhaul of the city's banking code that could take more than a year.

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