In its tenth Request for Information (RFI), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is seeking feedback on the effectiveness and accessibility of its guidance materials and activities, including implementation support. The CFPB is considering whether it should revise the formats, processes, and delivery methods for providing the guidance as well as the disclaimers used in certain guidance. The Bureau also requests comments on potential new forms of guidance. The comment period for the RFI is 90 days.
Guidance. While interpretive rules and general statements of policy are frequently referred to as "guidance," the Bureau noted that it also uses the term more broadly to refer to compliance guides and other materials and activities that are not rules. CFPB non-rule guidance materials generally reiterate requirements, positions, or priorities that previously have been announced in a regulation or elsewhere and include documents such as rule summaries, compliance guides, checklists, and webinars, among other forms of guidance.
These materials do not require notice and a comment period and are not binding under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. § 551 et seq.), according to the CFPB. However, the materials can have legal and practical significance under certain federal consumer financial laws that provide the industry with a safe harbor for good-faith reliance on legislative rules and certain interpretations issued by the Bureau.
Topics not covered. The Bureau’s notice states that the current RFI does not include:
- educational materials on its regulations developed for consumers or in response to consumer inquiries;
- the substance of any particular proposed or final rule, for both adopted and inherited rules, including a proposed or final rule’s Official Interpretations; or
- guidance provided in the Bureau’s Supervision and Examination Manuals or Supervisory Highlights.
RFIs coming up. The next RFI in the series will address consumer education, the Bureau said. The agency also is planning an RFI on consumer inquiries in the near future.
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