Government LendingRegulatory

CFPB snubs “revolving door” with new public petition process for rulemaking

Starting Feb. 16, the public can submit petitions for rule making directly to the agency

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to let the public — not high-powered lobbyists — go to the front of the line to shape the agency’s rulemaking process.

Starting Feb. 16, the public can submit petitions for rule making directly to the agency, the CFPB announced today.

According to the government watchdog, members of the public can now submit their opinions on matters pertaining to regulations, whether that be a request for the agency to pursue a new rule, amend an existing one or repeal a rule. The petitions will be automatically posted on public dockets for review and comment.

However, feedback from former government employees and lobbyists will now be subject to public review, the CFPB said.

In its announcement, the CFPB said that “former government employees and other individuals who are paid to influence the agency’s rulemaking agenda behind the scenes will be asked to submit their petition for public inspection instead.”

“Americans should be able to easily exercise their Constitutional rights without hiring a high-priced lawyer or lobbyist,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “Our new program will broaden access to the agency’s rulemaking process.”

In November 2021, Chopra said that he would not tolerate a “revolving door” culture at the agency.

In a bulletin, Chopra raised concerns that former employees may “have a financial incentive to exploit confidential information to which they may have had access,” potentially in violation of criminal law, he said.

Chopra said at the time that agency alumni would not receive special treatment. The CFPB director said that heightened scrutiny would be applied to matters and decisions “where a party has employed or retained the services of a former employee.”

The bureau also said in their announcement this week that the public petition process is in line with recommendations issued by the Administrative Conference of the United States.

In 2014, the conference recommended agencies improve their procedures and practices with respect to petitions for rulemaking, because “few agencies have in place official procedures for accepting, processing, and responding to petitions for rulemaking.”

The CFPB added that they are committed to listening to the public that it serves and that “the public’s petitions will help the CFPB identify consumer protection issues worthy of reform, rulemaking, or in need of further clarification.”

Agencies in the housing space including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Housing Finance Agency, and the Department of Veterans Affairs do not have a dedicated page for the public to file petitions for rulemaking.

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