The Office of Thrift Supervision started 96% of its safety-and-soundness exams on time last year.

Despite the added burden of performing on-site year-2000 reviews at every thrift, the agency began 739 of its 773 statutorily required exams on time in 1998, said Scott M. Albinson, managing director for supervision. OTS did even better on its compliance exams, starting 467 of 478 on time.

The agency's on-time performance placed it ahead of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., but behind the Federal Reserve Board.

The OCC started about 30% of its required safety-and-soundness exams late in 1998, and the FDIC was tardy on nearly 10% of its examinations. The Fed began all of its exams on time.

To help it meet or beat its 1998 performance levels, the OTS plans to hire 23 examiners this year as well as a number of short-term contractors. Mr. Albinson said the agency is "well poised" to complete close to 100% of its 1999 exams on time.

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