WASHINGTON - Federal bank regulators said Tuesday that they are taking steps to ease the regulatory burden on community banks by eliminating or revising certain call report line items.

"The objectives of this community bank burden-reduction initiative are consistent with the early feedback the FFIEC has received as part of the regulatory review being conducted under the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act," the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council said in a press release.

The changes would not apply to credit unions, but would affect banks and savings associations.

"In evaluating changes to the Call Report, the FFIEC has sought to balance reporting burden against regulators' need for reliable data to ensure banks and savings associations operate in a safe and sound manner," the FFIEC added.

Call reports have been a source of consternation for community banks, which say that some of the data requirements are outdated or irrelevant.

But the cost of compiling the report can be high. For instance, a 2014 Independent Community Bankers of America survey found that three quarters of community banks spend $60,000 annually preparing the reports when taking into account staff compensation and that 72% said a short-form report would substantially reduce their regulatory reporting burden.

Along with the FFIEC announcement that they are proposing a streamlined call report for community banks, the council also said it is looking at other areas where it could reduce call report burden for community banks, including accelerating the review of evaluating possibly unnecessary items, looking into a simplified call report, and increasing communication between community banks and regulators.

Comments on the proposal are due within 60 days of it being published in the Federal Register and the proposed changes would take effect with call reports for December 2015 or March 2016. The FFIEC is made up of six voting members, with representation from the Federal Reserve Board, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, National Credit Union Administration and the State Liaison Committee.


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