WASHINGTON - The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is reorganizing management of its 1,980 examiners, splitting off the 350 supervisors who oversee the 30 largest national banks into a distinct group.
These large-bank examiners will be led by a new senior deputy comptroller, whom Comptroller John D. Hawke Jr. said he would announce this month.
"This is a recognition of the fact that we've got two very different types of institutions," Mr. Hawke said in an interview Monday. "Given the important role our large banks play in the national and international arena, I believed it appropriate to have a senior staff member devoted solely to large bank supervision," he wrote in a memo to employees last week.
In addition to managing the large-bank examiners, the new senior deputy comptroller is to oversee the agency's London office and manage the shared national credit program, its annual exam of all loans bigger than $20 million that are shared by three or more lenders. That exam is currently being conducted.
Mr. Hawke said his choice will come from within the agency. The logical candidates are the three deputy comptrollers - Delora Ng Jee, Timothy W. Long, and Douglas W. Roeder - who currently manage groups of examiners supervising the biggest national banks. All three report to Senior Deputy Comptroller Leann Britton.
Under the reorganization, Ms. Britton is to continue overseeing the 1,630 examiners who keep tabs on small and midsize institutions. Her purview also includes credit card banks and federal branches and agencies of foreign banks in the United States. Mr. Hawke said Ms. Britton will also be responsible for problem-bank supervision and fraud investigations at the 2,170 national banks with less than $20 billion of assets.
Serving as a bridge between these two will be E. Wayne Rushton who as part of the reorganization got the coveted title of chief national bank examiner - which the agency has not used since mid-1997, when Jimmy F. Barton retired.
Mr. Rushton, who joined the OCC in 1965 and has been senior deputy comptroller for bank supervision policy since May 1997, will continue to be responsible for developing policy, guidance, and examination procedures. But now he will also be responsible for ensuring a formal link with the people who carry out these policies.
"One of my objectives here is to treat supervision as an integrated whole, both policy and operations," Mr. Hawke said in the interview. Mr. Rushton will be "not only a bridge between large banks and small banks but a bridge between operations and policy."
To accomplish this, Mr. Rushton, Ms. Britton, and the new senior deputy comptroller for large banks will form a new subcommittee of the agency's executive committee "to oversee and collaboratively plan our bank supervision activities," Mr. Hawke said in the employee memo.
With Mr. Rushton as its chairman, the new panel will have "broad responsibilities for OCC supervisory activities, including the setting of examination policy and resource priorities." The three will work together, Mr. Hawke said, to review bank performance and trends in the banking system.
The agency's last reorganization was in 1997, when supervision of the 34 largest national banks was shifted to Washington from the six district offices. Three senior staff jobs were created to coordinate oversight of large banks - the jobs currently held by Ms. Jee, Mr. Long, and Mr. Roeder. Ms. Jee had been head of the OCC's western district; Mr. Long had been examiner in charge at the former NationsBank Corp.; and Mr. Roeder held the same post at the former Fleet Financial Group Inc.