The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has released a new policy governing the disclosure of ex parte communications, or those related to the rule making process that fall out of the normal public comments channels.

The agency suggests that public participation essential to their rulemaking process and working with the various stakeholders will result in promulgated rules being for efficient and effective.  As such, it is common for the CFPB staff to receive suggestions and information from different sources as they begin a rulemaking process. 

At the announcement of a proposed rule, published in the Federal Registry or on the CFPB website, or at the stage of publishing an interim final rule with a request for comment, the policy governs how the CFPB will disclose comments or communications that are made directly with CFPB staff, rather than through the public comments process.

In issuing the policy, the agency acknowledges that some communications occur this way either in addition to, or instead of, the published public comment method.  Accordingly, the policy dictates requirements for disclosure of these communications to ensure the rulemaking process remains open and fair.  The communications received in this manner must be summarized and disclosed on the public docket according to stipulations within the policy.

The ex parte policy applies to communications that occur until a final rule is published or until a rulemaking process is terminated.  It applies to all personnel who is, or may reasonably be expected to be involved in the decision-making process for the CFPB.  Persons making the communications are required to submit the communications or summarization in the event of oral communications, within three days of making the communication.  The policy exempts communications with general counsel, other federal agencies and with members of Congress.

According to the release by the CFPB, "It is our expectation that this ex parte policy will help ensure that CFPB’s rulemaking process is both open and effective. We anticipate that we will adjust the policy as needed over time, and we encourage any feedback members of the public may have."