Carl E. Powell, director of the Federal Reserve's automation resources, announced plans to retire by the end of next week.

A 26-year Fed veteran based at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Mr. Powell has been at the center of recent efforts to consolidate back-office operations and cut costs.

Bruce J. Summers, senior vice president at the Richmond bank, will take on Mr. Powell's responsibilities during the search for a replacement.

Mr. Powell was appointed in 1991 to create uniformity in locally operated check collection and electronic funds transfer services, and to consolidate data processing and interdistrict communication networks.

J. Alfred Broaddus Jr., president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, said Mr. Powell built a 530-member unit to manage these activities and "has done an outstanding job of bringing it up to speed."

Mr. Broaddus, who is overseeing the search, said he expects to name Mr. Powell's successor by yearend.

The Federal Reserve is in the fourth year of a consolidation that involves overhauls of computer systems and reductions of staff in the 12 district banks. The objective is to standardize its product set and reduce costs by eliminating redundant operation systems.

Pushing the demand for standardization is the growing number of banks that do business in several Fed districts.

The consolidation also positions the Fed to compete better with private- sector providers of payment services and to cope with the shrinking number of banks eligible to buy its services.

"We have tried to remain competitive," Mr. Broaddus said. He added that Mr. Powell has helped the Fed to achieve its goal of improving the efficiency of the payment system.

Mr. Powell, 50, began his career at the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank as a budget analyst.

He also served as first vice president and chief operating officer at the San Francisco Fed.

Mr. Powell earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Emporia State University in Kansas. He is a 1978 graduate of Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University.

The Richmond Fed said he will pursue private-sector business interests near his home in North Carolina.

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