Request for Comments: Treasury’s Office of Financial Education and Financial Access (OFEFA)

Request for Comments:
Due November 14, 2011

The Department of the Treasury issued a notice inviting comments from the public regarding how the Treasury’s Office of Financial Education and Financial Access (OFEFA) can design, implement and administer certain financial access activities authorized in section 1204 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the Act), to expand access to mainstream financial institutions.

Section 1204 authorizes Treasury to establish a multi-year program of grants, cooperative agreements, financial agency agreements and similar projects and undertakings, subject to availability of funding, designed to: 1) enable low- and moderate-income individuals to establish one or more accounts in a federally insured depository institution that are appropriate to meet the financial needs of such individuals and 2) improve access to the provision of such accounts, on reasonable terms, for low- and moderate-income individuals. Section 1204 also authorizes, subject to regulations prescribed by Treasury, recipients of such grants or cooperative agreements to provide low- and moderate-income individuals with small-dollar value loans and financial education and counseling relating to conducting transactions in and managing accounts.

All comments and submissions must be received by November 14, 2011. OFEFA invites comments and suggestions on potential activities, particularly those activities that may not require additional appropriations. OFEFA is particularly interested in comments in the following areas:

(1) Program Focus
(a) What types of program initiatives should the Treasury promote to enable low- and moderate- income individuals to establish accounts in federally insured depository institutions?
(b) How should the Treasury evaluate whether an account in a federally insured depository institution is “appropriate” to meet the financial needs of low- and moderate- income individuals? What account features and terms are “reasonable” to meet the financial needs of low- and moderate- income individuals in an appropriate manner?
(c) What level of financial access should be the desired outcome of such initiatives? What other measures of success of the initiatives should be considered?
(d) How can the Treasury enable, enhance and assist local, regional, and state start-up collaborations that incorporate low- and moderate- income individuals into the financial mainstream? How can existing collaborations be supported to expand or improve their financial access efforts? How could meaningful innovations be fostered by these collaborations?
(e) How could the Treasury best encourage high-quality financial education and counseling relating to conducting transactions in and managing accounts?
(f) What could be done to promote innovation within the development of sustainable financial services and products related to accounts? Are there opportunities for innovation in account products, services, delivery channels, or other areas that could be effectively addressed through the use of prizes, awards, and competitions? If so, what prizes or awards would be necessary to help promote account innovations?

(2) General Comments
The Treasury is interested in comments on how it can encourage activities that enable low- and moderate-income individuals to establish one or more accounts in a federally insured depository institution and to improve access to the provision of such accounts. Additionally, we are interested in comments regarding other ways (in addition to the provision of accounts in federally insured depository institutions) for the Treasury to consider helping individuals obtain access to accounts with appropriate consumer protections and federal deposit insurance. Lastly, we are interested in comments on what should be done to support innovative approaches to the delivery of financial education and counseling to increase the financial capability of individuals and families more broadly?

For the full Notice, click here http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-09-13/pdf/2011-23235.pdf (Adobe PDF).

Comments may be sent by mail to:

Louisa Quittman

Office of Financial Education and Financial Access

U.S. Department of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, D.C. 20220

or by email to: ofe@treasury.gov, by facsimile to (202) 622-6243.

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