How Not to Set Up An Agency
At the risk of seeming to toot our own horn, I can't resist drawing your attention to Charlie Clark's in-depth piece on GovExec today about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Much has been written, broadcast and blogged about the political firestorm surrounding the agency and its acting director, Elizabeth Warren, but much less has been reported about the details of how it is being set up and managed. This story fills in the gaps.
The article shows the lengths to which lawmakers will go to hobble an agency whose creation they opposed. No fewer than 44 Republican senators have said they will oppose any nominee to direct CFPB in the absence of structural changes to the agency. (President Obama announced over the weekend that he would nominate Richard Cordray to lead the agency, throwing in the towel on winning approval for Warren get the job on a permanent basis.) The House Financial Services Committee wants to do away with the director position entirely, and run the agency via a commission. The House also has voted to place restrictions on the agency's funding sources and spending.
It's one thing to oppose creating an agency, and even to work for it to be abolished after it is created. It's another to deliberately try to hobble an organization established by law and prevent it from doing its work competently. Denying an agency effective leadership and micromanaging its organization and spending before it even has officially started its work is no way to do business. It simply results in bad government, and that in turn further undermines Americans' trust in public institutions.