Norman E. D'Amours has done a second-rate job managing the National Credit Union Administration, but has broken no laws, the General Accounting Office found.
According to a draft report by the congressional watchdog agency, Mr. D'Amours tightly controlled the board's agenda and stifled input from other directors. This fostered an atmosphere of "distrust and animosity" at the agency, the GAO said.
"Even when the majority of the board disagreed with a policy implementation, informal or formal means of timely addressing the problem were not clearly available to them," the GAO said. "Poor communication between the chairman and the board members and the chairman's control of the board agenda contributed to the problem."
However, while Mr. D'Amours' actions "may raise concerns from a management perspective," the GAO found that his conduct was legal.
The GAO, whose report is expected to be released in final form this week, was ordered last June by Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., to investigate allegations made by Robert Swan, a former NCUA director. Rep. Bachus, chairman of House Banking's general oversight subcommittee, released in January the findings of a parallel investigation conducted by his panel.
In that more critical report, Rep. Bachus accused Mr. D'Amours of running the agency in a manner that "poisoned the atmosphere" and created morale problems.
Like the Bachus report, the GAO admonished the NCUA for directing its examiners to ask credit union officials for contributions to fund an agency-sponsored conference held last August.
The GAO said these solicitations "were inappropriate and could jeopardize the professional relationship that should exist between a financial institution and its examiner." .
However, the GAO said it found no evidence to support an allegation that the NCUA chairman unilaterally adopted policies without allowing the entire board to vote on them.
In a letter responding to the GAO report, Mr. D'Amours lauded the GAO staff's professionalism, but disagreed with several findings. For example, he denied that his conduct "diminished the effectiveness" of the other directors.