WASHINGTON - The board of directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Thursday approved the agency's proposed 2001 budget of $1.126 billion, a reduction of $60 million from last year.

The FDIC has decreased its budget every year since 1996. It attributed this year's 5.1% decline to increased operating efficiency, lower staffing levels, and less reliance on outside contractors. The agency's staff has fallen from a peak of nearly 12,000 in 1995 to 6,700 today, and is expected to decline by an additional 400 employees by the end of 2001.

The budget indicates that in the coming year the agency will increase the resources devoted to supervision of electronic banking and other technology-driven changes in the industry. It will also focus more on implementing fraud detection procedures and strengthening supervision of loan portfolios.

FDIC Chairman Donna Tanoue said, "This budget is like a hat trick in hockey: three goals. We cut costs, meet today's responsibilities, and address tomorrow's needs."

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