3rd party exam authority, climate change addressed

(Oct. 1, 2021) Other key moments of the Harper nomination hearing included:

  • Harper again endorsed third-party vendor exam authority for NCUA (which would require a statutory change). “Bank regulators have authority to go into third-party vendors; NCUA does not,” Harper said in response to questions from Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.). Harper, as he has before, called lack of that authority “a blind spot” for NCUA. He told the senator NCUA is working on a white paper on the subject that Harper will provide to Ossoff if confirmed. (NASCUS supports the agency obtaining the power over technology service providers (TSPs) that provide services to federally insured credit unions — provided that any such authority requires NCUA to rely on state examinations of such service providers where such authority exists at the state level.)
  • The NCUA Board chairman indicated to Sen. Tina Brown (D-Minn.) that credit unions in all communities – large and small, urban and rural – should be cognizant of risks presented by climate change. He said NCUA must consider storms and all material risks that occur as a result of climate change, including such risks as credit unions attached to a particular industry that is facing structure changes due to climate change, or credit unions in areas of high concentration of agricultural areas where crops are affected by climate change.
  • A commitment by Harper for “more specialized training” of examiners working in agricultural areas to assess risks particular to those areas, in response to comments by Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.). “One of the complaints I hear from credit unions in ag lending is ‘our [NCUA] examiners, they don’t know the particular crop; they don’t know how this farm works.’ That is something certainly I would commit to you, if confirmed, to working with you to make sure that we get more specialized training for our examiners and help in our exams in that way.”
  • On repeated questions about his views of a proposal that credit unions and banks report to IRS the deposits and withdrawals made by members to determine their tax liability, Harper repeatedly answered that, while he was aware of the proposal, he hadn’t looked at it in detail and indicated he couldn’t render an opinion on it. He did say there would be administrative costs – but wouldn’t characterize how big (or small) those would be. He asked if he could get back to the panel members who inquired about it after he’s had more time to study the proposal, which has been roundly criticized by credit union industry trade groups.