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GAO’s Financial Markets and Community Investment Team

Posted on August 19, 2014
GAO’s workforce is generally organized into 14 mission teams. Today we'll be putting the spotlight on the Financial Markets and Community Investment (FMCI) team. FMCI supports Congress by helping ensure the effectiveness of regulatory oversight in financial and housing markets, and assessing the effectiveness of federal initiatives aimed at small businesses, state and local governments, and communities. Reports FMCI team reports cover 5 issue areas:
  • Financial Markets: This fiscal year, one report examined government support for banks and another report discussed the status of international financial reform efforts and the U.S. role.
  • Housing: We issued a report examining the effectiveness of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s efforts to promote self-sufficiency among residents.
  • Community Investment: We have reviewed how the Economic Development Administration documented its grant decisions under its two largest programs.
  • Small Businesses: Our work in this area includes a report that examined the Treasury Department’s management of the State Small Business Credit Initiative; and a report that examined the Small Business Administration’s Patriot Express pilot loan program, which provided credit to veteran-owned small businesses.
  • Consumer Protection: We have issued a report on the effectiveness of federal financial literacy activities; and a report on the lack of comprehensive federal protections for consumer data collected and sold by information resellers.
For more information on our work, see our Key Issue pages by clicking on the “Business Regulation and Consumer Protection,” “Economic Development,” “Financial Markets and Institutions,” or “Housing” boxes on this page. Impact In fiscal year 2013, FMCI’s work identified $9.6 billion in financial benefits for the federal government as well as other efficiencies. Directors from FMCI testified at 12 congressional hearings and contributed to 5 other hearings. A Closer Look at a FMCI report: College Debit Cards A growing number of colleges and universities offer banking products to students in the form of debit and prepaid cards issued through agreements with financial services providers. These college cards provide students with debit or checking account services, and can be used to deliver federal student aid.  graphic1

Excerpted from GAO-14-91

College cards can benefit students and schools, but concerns exist about fees, student choice, and transparency. Students may not be getting information that enables them to adequately assess whether a college card best meets their individual needs and is the most cost-effective choice for receiving student aid. We asked Congress to consider requiring that financial firms providing card services to colleges file their agreements with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for public review. We also recommended that the Department of Education, in consultation with CFPB, develop requirements for schools and card providers to present students with objective and neutral information on their options for receiving federal student aid payments.
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