The Three Kings

Tomorrow is the last NCUA open board meeting this year.  And possibly Rodney Hood’s final one.

This is the most important Board event as it sets the spending limits for the agency all of whose funding is from credit unions.

The key question is whether the public will learn anything about the board’s ability to limit the staff’s desire for ever more spending?  Has all the deal making been completed and the questions and answers fully scripted out, or will real board dialogue actually occur?

The meeting is critical because decisions are made about the NCUSIF’s normal operating level (NOL), the overhead transfer rate(OTR), and how the agency will be funding itself from FCU’s operating fee.  Each of these directly affects credit union’s funding.

Budget Questions for 2024

Some of the issues that might be asked include the following;

  • Why does the “missions support” functions in the 19 DC offices need a 17.4% and 19 person staff increase, whereas the examination and field staff, the front line workers, gain only a 5% and 9 person increase?  Where does the real work of supervision take place?
  • How is it that the highest paid staff in the nineteen DC offices are those in the 8-person Chief Economist with annual compensation of $329,000 each ?
  • Are two completely separate legal offices needed, one the 46-person general counsel’s office and the second the 8-person staff for business ethics?
  • Numerous other personnel additions would benefit from more information such as  in the ombudsman, CURE or OCEO offices.
  • An explanation of why every office seems to require “contracted services” such as $44.5 million being spent by the Information Office, an increase of $3.5 million (8.6%). Is the agency in that much need of PR?   What firms are benefitting from this largess?
  • There are three different offices serving the Chairman: his office, the office of the Board and a newly established office of the Executive Secretary with a staff of two but then increasing in the out years.  Why is the new office needed given all the other support in place?
  • Why are key  units left out of the pubic budget package, that is the details of the CLF’s ever expanding spending and the separate NCUSIF direct charges?

The Role of Democratic Debate

The composition of the board where only two may be of the same party, is intended to encourage discussion and the airing of different approaches to policy and oversight.  This has not occurred with the current board.  Bipartisanship, or deferring to the chair, is used to explain the lack of meaningful dialogue or alternative positions being put forward.

But debate is what makes democracy work well.  Without a loyal opposition, the understanding of important options is lacking.

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

From wikipedia: “We Three Kings“is a Christmas carol that was written by John Henry Hopkins Jr. in 1857. At the time of composing the carol, Hopkins served as the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and he wrote the carol for a Christmas pageant in New York City. It was the first widely popular Christmas carol written in America.”




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