The unprecedented flow of persons seeking to enter the US in the Southwest is at very high levels. This is a situation that concerns many people of goodwill.
Should NCUA leadership be seeking full time staff to go on temporary assignment to help out?
If confirmed that this volunteer recruitment effort is underway, the situation raises important questions. These include:
Who at NCUA approved this request and under what authority?
How does the effort assist the credit union system which funds all the agency’s activities?
If NCUA can spare these “volunteers” for months at a time, how critical is their role in the agency to begin with?
If this is a proper action, why is it being done with no transparency?
The Cooperative Way
Finally, if the situation is so urgent and just, why not ask credit unions to participate?
When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the agency opened its office to volunteers and former employees to man telephone lines answering member calls and coordinate industry recovery efforts.
Few would turn away when asked to help one’s fellow human beings. But NCUA should follow the appropriate authority when asked to deploy its “independent” agency resources. More importantly, as a government agency such actions should be done with full public disclosure.
The Collaborative Advantage
On many occasions credit unions have provided collaborative solutions to strengthen their system. The resource sharing and mentoring programs as well as the credit union funded NCUSIF and CLF configurations are some examples of agency-industry joint efforts. Volunteer capital is a cooperative advantage and value.
Increasingly however, NCUA leaders have pursued unilateral actions without industry participation or, when asking for comments, do what was proposed despite substantial objections.
Individual volunteering is the American spirit at its finest, whether the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or thousands of non-profit and charitable endeavors. It is an unfortunate precedent for leaders in an independent agency to privately promote an activity, apart from its mission. And for senior leaders to then solicit their employees to take part.
The agency must be transparent; this is not simply an internal matter. For it deploys personnel hired and trained with credit union’s fund for activities unrelated to the agency’s purpose. NCUA is not a private business or organization, but a congressionally defined institution.
Moreover, should something go awry, NCUA employees should have the confidence their good intentions are known and supported by the industry they chose to serve.
There is a right way and a wrong way to request staff to volunteer no matter how worthy the cause. Doing so secretly impedes necessary, open discussion and could bring unintended consequences tarnishing positive intentions.