Lots of folks believe that reform at the NCUA is a pipe dream, just not possible. But with the prospect of a new Chair, personally I still have great hopes for fundamental, positive changes at the Agency - and soon! The changes required, however, are not incremental tweaks, they are a complete "about face" in terms of [you guessed it!] accountability, competency, and transparency.
In "FOIA... Part 4" offered up an easy test for the current NCUA Board leadership to demonstrate its commitment to a new day at NCUA - simply tell credit unions and the American public what internal changes were made at the Agency to prevent the repeated misuse of FOIA by the NCUA staff [here's the link] as acknowledged under oath at the House Financial Services Committee on July 23, 2015.
Here's a description from the FDIC leadership of why reestablishing trust at the NCUA is so important. While Mr. Hoenig is chastising our friends over in the banking industry... the same "reputational damage" has occurred - and continues to exist - at the NCUA:
"In a stern critique of the banking industry, FDIC board member Thomas Hoenig said in a recent speech that bankers do not fully appreciate the public's rebuke of the industry. "It is alarming that some CEOs of some financial firms fail to grasp why they are trusted so little nor appreciate the reputational damage they caused their industry.
They acknowledge very little offense in taking a public subsidy and squandering it in a series of actions that place billions of taxpayer dollars at risk."
Can you think of any "offensive" billion dollar squandering that has occurred at the NCUA, that has opened them to "public rebuke"?
Well, the WALL STREET JOURNAL thought "they smelled a rat" at NCUA over contingency legal fees when the bill was "just $40 million" [note the date of the article - 2012!!]:
"Nice Payday for Toxic Work"
(Oct. 24, 2012):
The article describes an apparent "insider deal" by NCUA for legal services in connection with lawsuits involving the corporates. The law firms were hired on a contingency fee basis netting around $40 million. A 2007 Executive Order "prohibits federal agencies from entering into these arrangements with outside attorneys."
"A Justice Department spokeswoman said that officials were unaware of any other federal agency that has outside firms on contingency fee contracts."
"The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. generally avoids contingency fee arrangements, an FDIC spokesman said."
Mr. John Ianno, NCUA's associate general counsel, said in the article that the process of selecting the firms wasn't public, other firms were not interviewed, and that "the Agency doesn't have to follow the Executive Order because it is an independent agency..."
... and inexplicably the NCUA, to quote Mr. Hoenig: ... "fails to grasp why they are trusted so little nor appreciate the reputational damage they caused..."
So, here's a second, public "FOIA request" for the NCUA Board: Please vote to publish those legal agreement contracts at the January 19, 2017 meeting.
ACCOUNTABILITY - COMPETENCY - TRANSPARENCY