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OTS Goes Dark as Authority Moves to OCC

On Thursday the ""Office of Thrift Supervision"":http://www.ots.treas.gov/ (OTS) went dark in offices and locations around the country, with the bulk of its supervisory responsibilities and employees relocating to the ""Office of the Comptroller of the Currency"":http://www.occ.treas.gov/ (OCC) and several other federal agencies. Come October, the agency ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô responsible for supervising savings banks and associations since 1989 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô will officially cease to exist.

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Per the Dodd-Frank Act, the OCC received transfers of authority that includes chartering, examining, and regulating savings associations with less than $10 billion in assets, some 640 institutions. The ""Consumer Financial Protection Bureau"":http://www.consumerfinance.gov/, which on Thursday received rule-making and oversight authority for 18 consumer financial laws from seven agencies, including the OCC and OTS, will assume responsibility for institutions with more than $10 billion in assets, according to ""Federal News radio"":http://federalnewsradio.com/?nid=15&sid=2469788.

""The mission has not changed,"" the station reported Tim Ward, deputy comptroller of thrift supervision, as saying. ""Responsibility for oversight of the federal savings association is the same as it was before, it's just being carried out by the OCC rather than the OTS.""

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In January the agencies issued a ""joint implementation plan"":http://www.occ.treas.gov/publications/publications-by-type/other-publications-reports/pub-other-joint-implementation-plan.pdf with the ""Federal Reserve"":http://www.federalreserve.gov/ and ""FDIC"":http://www.fdic.gov/ ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô two other agencies which will receive other transfers of authority from the OTS. The transfer process delineated pay systems, health benefits, and other matters that would stay in place or change for the 674 OTS employees moving to the OCC.

The transfer was an orderly one, says Brian Hubbard, an OCC spokesperson. He says that the OCC and OTS began talking to each other well before Dodd-Frank passed through Congress in order to expedite the process.

""We worked closely with OTS to make sure there is continuity,"" Hubbard says, citing the plan and other rules issued by the OCC.

He adds that OCC and OTS examiners and supervisors began conducting joint investigations in January to streamline the transfer process. According to the spokesperson, the OCC organized 17 conferences with thrift professionals to ensure some face-time, introduce the examiners and regulators, and clarify questions about the agency merger.

""The conversations were very positive,"" he says. Speaking about the transfer, he says that ""the goal of the agencies was to make this a non-event as much as possible, and evidently we've succeeded.""

With the OCC responsible for regulating 63 percent of mortgage servicers, a question arises: How will the merger of authority and abolition of a regulatory agency at play for two decades affect the mortgage markets?

""We don't expect much difference,"" Hubbard argues. ""The overall impact to consumers will be very transparent.""

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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