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    Subject Term: "Safety and soundness"

    1 publication with a total of 6 open recommendations
    Director: Lawrance Evans, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Congress should consider whether additional changes to the financial regulatory structure are needed to reduce or better manage fragmentation and overlap in the oversight of financial institutions and activities to improve (1) the efficiency and effectiveness of oversight; (2) the consistency of consumer and investor protections; and (3) the consistency of financial oversight for similar institutions, products, risks, and services. For example, Congress could consider consolidating the number of federal agencies involved in overseeing the safety and soundness of depository institutions, combining the entities involved in overseeing the securities and derivatives markets, transferring the remaining prudential regulators' consumer protection authorities over large depository institutions to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the optimal role for the federal government in insurance regulation, among other considerations.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: One bill has been introduced in the 115th Congress that would change the financial regulatory structure to address fragmented and overlapping regulatory authorities among agencies, as GAO suggested in February 2016. H.R. 594 was introduced on January 20, 2017, and calls for the functions of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission to be combined in a single independent regulatory commission. Such an action could help to address fragmentation and overlap between the two agencies, and reduce opportunities for inefficiencies in the regulatory process and inconsistencies in how regulators conduct oversight activities over similar types of institutions, products, and risks.
    Recommendation: Congress should consider whether legislative changes are necessary to align FSOC's authorities with its mission to respond to systemic risks. Congress could do so by making changes to FSOC's mission, its authorities, or both, or to the missions and authorities of one or more of the FSOC member agencies to support a stronger link between the responsibility and capacity to respond to systemic risks. In doing so, Congress could solicit information from FSOC on the effective scope of its collective designation authorities, including any gaps.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: No legislative action identified. As of March 1, 2017, no legislation had been introduced that would align FSOC's authorities with its mission to respond to systemic risks, as GAO suggested in February 2016. Without such legislative changes, FSOC may lack the tools it needs to comprehensively address systemic risks that may emerge, and a gap will continue to exist in the post Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act mechanisms for the mitigation of systemic risks.
    Recommendation: To help regulators address regulatory fragmentation and improve FSOC's ability to identify emerging systemic risks, as OFR develops and refines its financial stability monitoring tools, it should work with FSOC to determine ways in which to fully and regularly incorporate current and future monitors and assessments into Systemic Risk Committee deliberations, including, where relevant, those that present disaggregated or otherwise confidential supervisory information.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council: Office of Financial Research
    Status: Open

    Comments: At the FSOC Systemic Risk Committee meeting held in December 2016, Treasury indicated that Office of Financial Research staff presented on the agency's Financial Stability Report. Officials indicated that they provided an assessment on potential financial stability risks, including macroeconomic, market, credit, funding and liquidity, and contagion risks. Systemic Risk Committee meeting attendees were able to compare and contrast these with the results from the Federal Reserve's systemic risk monitoring activities, which were also presented at the meeting. Office of Financial Research officials stated that there was general consensus at the meeting that these discussions were useful and that they should continue. GAO does not believe that this action is consistent with the intent of if February 2016 recommendation to fully and regularly incorporate current and future monitors and assessments into FSOC's Systemic Risk Committee deliberations. While GAO encourages sharing this type of information, the Office of Financial Research's Financial Stability Report is a publicly-available report. The intent of GAO's recommendation was to encourage the agency to fully incorporate all of its monitors into Systemic Risk Committee discussions, including its Financial Stability Monitor--its benchmark tool for assessing risks across the financial system. In addition, in its February 2016 report, GAO encouraged the agency to seek ways in which monitors that present disaggregated or otherwise confidential supervisory information can be incorporated in committee discussions. Without sharing such monitors and information, the Systemic Risk Committee may identify and advance the analysis of only a subset of systemic risks in a timely manner and may identify others too late or miss others altogether. The Financial CHOICE Act of 2016 was introduced in the 114th Congress. The act called for the Office of Financial Research to be eliminated. It was not passed before the end of the 114th Congress.
    Recommendation: To help regulators address regulatory fragmentation and improve FSOC's ability to identify emerging systemic risks, the Federal Reserve should work with FSOC to regularly incorporate the comprehensive results of its systemic risk monitoring activities into Systemic Risk Committee deliberations.

    Agency: Federal Reserve System
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, Federal Reserve officials indicated that they provided a presentation to FSOC's Systemic Risk Committee in December 2016, which included comprehensive results from its systemic risk monitoring activities. This action appears to be consistent with GAO's February 2016 recommendation, but the documentation provided by the Federal Reserve did not provide sufficient evidence that the agency has regularly incorporated these results into Systemic Risk Committee meetings. GAO will continue to monitor the Federal Reserve's participation in Systemic Risk Committee meetings to ensure that the agency continues to provide both regular and comprehensive results to the committee. Without better access to systemic risk monitoring tools and other outputs, the Systemic Risk Committee may identify and advance the analysis of only a subset of systemic risks in a timely manner and may identify others too late or miss others altogether.
    Recommendation: To more efficiently and effectively monitor the financial system for systemic risks and reduce the risk of unnecessary duplication, OFR and the Federal Reserve should jointly articulate individual and common goals for their systemic risk monitoring activities, including a plan to monitor progress toward articulated goals, and formalize regular strategic and technical discussions around their activities and outputs to support those goals.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council: Office of Financial Research
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Federal Reserve and the Office of Financial Research had coordinated to organize semi-annual meetings to jointly discuss views from their respective monitoring of the financial system for risks; but these meetings had not yet taken place. The first of these meetings is to be held in May 2017 following the agencies' respective systemic risk exercises. Initiating these discussions addresses part of GAO's February 2016 recommendation. GAO plans to review documentation from these meetings in 2017 to further assess if the agencies will use these meetings to jointly articulate individual and common goals, including developing a plan to monitor progress toward the goals. Fully addressing GAO's recommendation could help to ensure comprehensiveness in systemic risk surveillance and reduced risk of duplication. On September 9, 2016, the Financial CHOICE Act of 2016 was introduced. It called for the Office of Financial Research to be eliminated. The legislation did not pass before the 114th Congress ended.
    Recommendation: To more efficiently and effectively monitor the financial system for systemic risks and reduce the risk of unnecessary duplication, OFR and the Federal Reserve should jointly articulate individual and common goals for their systemic risk monitoring activities, including a plan to monitor progress toward articulated goals, and formalize regular strategic and technical discussions around their activities and outputs to support those goals.

    Agency: Federal Reserve System
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Federal Reserve and the Office of Financial Research had coordinated to organize semi-annual meetings to jointly discuss views from their respective monitoring of the financial system for risks; but these meetings had not yet taken place. The first of these meetings is to be held in May 2017 following the agencies' respective systemic risk exercises. Initiating these discussions addresses part of GAO's February 2016 recommendation. GAO plans to review documentation from these meetings in 2017 to further assess if the agencies will use these meetings to jointly articulate individual and common goals, including developing a plan to monitor progress toward the goals. Fully addressing GAO's recommendation could help to ensure comprehensiveness in systemic risk surveillance and reduced risk of duplication. On September 9, 2016, the Financial CHOICE Act of 2016 was introduced. It called for the Office of Financial Research to be eliminated. The legislation did not pass before the 114th Congress ended.