President Clinton has announced plans to nominate former House Banking Committee lawyer Armando Falcon Jr. as director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.

Congress created the agency in 1992 to watch over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and gave the agency a December 1994 deadline to devise capital standards for the government-sponsored enterprises. The rules are still in the works.

The office has been without a permanent director since February 1997 when its first head, Aida Alvarez, moved to the Small Business Administration.

Mr. Falcon, 38, came on board in September as a consultant. He spent eight years working for the Democrats on House Banking, rising to general counsel in 1995. Before coming to Washington, Mr. Falcon was a lawyer in San Antonio.

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How the mighty have tumbled. Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, who led the fight for financial reform last year as the House's fourth-ranking Republican, will have a lower profile this year. Last week he got his new assignment: chairman of House Education's employer-employee relations subcommittee.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm has selected Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer Linda L. Lord as the panel's chief counsel.

Before going to the SEC, Ms. Lord spent 12 years in private practice with three different D.C. law firms, most recently as a partner with Venable, Baetjer, Howard & Civiletti. She's also worked on Capitol Hill, logging six years on the House Banking Committee staff.

"Linda's real-life experience in confronting the regulatory structures that govern our banking and securities markets will make her an invaluable leader on the Senate Banking Committee team," Sen. Gramm said. "She will provide the insight the committee needs as we prepare to rework Depression- era banking laws and study further regulatory relief for securities transactions."

Former Small Business Administration official Jadine Nielsen joined the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Jan. 4 as the newest member of Chairman Donna A. Tanoue's inner circle. That circle is rounded out by Chief Operating Officer Dennis F. Geer and special assistant Eric J. Spitler, whom Ms. Tanoue cherry-picked from the agency's lobbying shop.

Roger A. Hood, deputy to FDIC Vice Chairman Andrew C. Hove Jr. since 1992, retired Dec. 31. Mr. Hood joined the FDIC as a staff attorney in 1959 and served as assistant general counsel from 1969 to 1992. Claude A. Rollin, special assistant to Joseph A. Neely until the former FDIC director resigned Oct. 1, was named a special counsel in the agency's legal division last week. He will oversee seven lawyers handling disputes involving deposit insurance coverage and assessments.

Federal Reserve Board Governor Edward M. Gramlich won't be at work for the next several weeks. The 59-year old central banker had his spleen removed Thursday at Georgetown University Medical Center. A Fed spokeswoman said he is resting comfortably and is expected to recover fully.

Maybe it's because the agency is always being sued, but the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is the only bank regulator praised in a new book, "America's Greatest Places for Lawyers to Work."

"People who work at the OCC rave about the supportive, cooperative, and productive atmosphere there," said author Kimm Alayne Walton.

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