HFSC subcommittee members express concerns over CFPB operations, budget

cfpbMembers of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations expressed concern about the CFPB’s operations, transparency and accountability at a Tuesday hearing.

CFPB CFO Stephen Agostini testified before the full committee on the agency’s $541 million 2013 budget, which includes a plan to increase staff to more than 1,200. Members expressed concern that the agency is able to allocate funds with little congressional oversight.

“In the end, this single director can disregard advice and manage as he wishes,” Subcommittee Chairman Patrick McHenry said. “He has little accountability to the Administration, and even less to Congress; his budget is secure.  As a result, it should come as no surprise that the Bureau has operated with less transparency and less concern for fiscal discipline than is appropriate for a steward of taxpayer funds.”

Additionally, members expressed concern about the CFPB’s plan to allocate $55 million to renovate its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“Incidentally, $55 million is more than the entire annual construction and acquisition budget for [the] General Services Administration for the totality of federal buildings,” McHenry said.

Members also voiced concern about the amount of money spent by the CFPB for employee travel, which totaled $5.9 million in the first half of the year, saying the expenses require strong controls and safeguards to prevent fraud, abuse and waste.

An independent audit by ASR Analytics found that CFPB travel requests are approved by supervisors without any dollar amount estimate, and travel vouchers are not sent to the supervisor for approval.

“We recommend that the dollar amount be stated in the initial travel request and approved by the Supervisor,” ASR Analytics. “Additionally, CFPB should strengthen internal control by instituting approval of the Travel Voucher by the Supervisor before it is routed to the Approving Official in the Office of Travel for payment.”

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