WASHINGTON - Three of the four bank and thrift regulatory agencies will spend slightly more money in 2000 than they did in 1999, with only the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. making do with less.

The Federal Reserve Board approved a two-year operating budget of $387.6 million for 2000-01, an increase of $35.4 million over the previous two-year budget and a 4.9% increase on an annual basis.

The Fed approved a capital budget of $23.8 million that includes $12 million for regular operations and $11.8 million for the continuing enhancement of the infrastructure of its Washington headquarters. The Fed also approved $6.6 million for its Office of the Inspector General, up 2.4% over the two years.

The combined budget for the 12 Federal Reserve Banks will be $2.3 billion, a 5.8% increase from its 1999 budget. The average increase across the individual banks was 5.2%, but the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis saw its budget expand by 13.8%, partly because the bank is set to become the consolidation site for the Treasury Investment program.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said that because its annual budget is based on revenue from the assessments paid by national banks, it will not be complete until bank call report data for the fourth quarter of 1999 is processed in February. The agency estimates that its budget will increase to approximately $400 million, from $395 million.

The Office of Thrift Supervision on Thursday reported that its 2000 budget had increased to $159 million, from $154 million in 1999. The agency said that part of the increase was the result of a gradual expansion of its 600-strong examination staff, which is expected to grow by 4% to 7% in 2000.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was the only one of the three regulators to report a budget decrease. On Dec. 14, the agency approved a 2000 budget of $1.2 billion, a decrease of $29 million, or 2% from 1999.

The FDIC attributed the reduced budget to staff reductions and a decline in liquidation and receivership programs. The agency said it expected to reduce staffing by 10%, from 7,265 in 1999 to 6,549 in 2000. Staff levels are expected to drop to 6,000 by the end of 2001.

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