The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is using the lessons it learned from rewriting its rulebook to set standards for future rule changes.

"We realized during our regulatory review process that we needed better ways of evaluating the practical effects of our rules," said OCC Chief Counsel Julie L. Williams. "Developing standards is an important step in that effort."

When crafting new regulations, the agency will focus on national banks' riskiest activities while eliminating unnecessary requirements, it said in a bulletin issued Friday.

Under the new directive, the OCC will use the rulemaking process to encourage national banks to develop innovative products and to ensure that they can compete with other financial service providers.

The agency also vowed to keep its rules as consistent as possible with those issued by other federal and state regulators.

In addition, the OCC will try to make it easier for banks and the public to weigh in on proposals, making comment periods at least 60 days long. Effective dates for new rules will give national banks as much time as possible to adjust to changes. The OCC will also encourage feedback to help it reevaluate how its rules are working.

Finally, the agency said, it will strive to write new rules in clear, plain language.

James D. McLaughlin, the American Bankers Association's director of regulatory and trust affairs, applauded this principle.

"Bankers shouldn't have to consult an attorney every time a particular rule comes into play," he said. "These standards are a real refreshing approach to rulemaking."

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