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Highlights

Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO examined: (1) the financial condition of credit unions; (2) the regulation and supervision of credit unions; (3) the structure of the credit union industry; (4) the evolving role of credit unions in the financial marketplace; and (5) a certified public accountant's audits of the National Credit Union Administration's (NCUA) Operating and Share Insurance Funds and its Central Liquidity Facility's financial statements for 1989 and 1990.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status
Congress should hold annual oversight hearings at which the NCUA Board testifies on the condition of credit unions and NCUSIF and assesses risk areas and reports on NCUA responses.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to require NCUA to establish minimum capital levels for credit unions no less stringent than those applicable to other insured depository institutions, providing for an appropriate phase-in period.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to require the amount that credit unions can loan or invest in a single obligor, other than investments in direct or guaranteed obligations of the U.S. government in the credit union's corporate, be limited to not more than 1 percent of the credit union's total assets. Presently permitted limits with respect to credit union service organizations should continue, and exposure of not more than 2 percent of assets should be provided for in repurchase agreements transactions. Congress should authorize NCUA to set a higher limit for secured consumer loans made by small credit unions and for overnight funds deposited with correspondent institutions.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to require NCUA to tighten the commercial lending regulation and include an overall limit.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to require the borrowing authority to specify that credit unions may not borrow for the purpose of growth, unless prior approval of NCUA is obtained.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to require credit unions to adequately disclose that dividends on share and other accounts cannot be guaranteed in advance but are dependent on earnings.
Closed - Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to require all credit unions to obtain NCUA permission before opening a new branch.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to require credit unions above a minimum size to obtain annual independent certified public accountant audits and to make annual management reports on internal controls and compliance with laws and regulations.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to require NCUA to compel a state credit union to follow the federal regulation in any area in which the powers go beyond those permitted federal credit unions and are considered to constitute a safety and soundness risk.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to authorize NCUA to provide assistance in resolving a failing credit union only when it is less costly than liquidation or essential to provide adequate depository service in the community.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should require NCUA to maintain documentation supporting its resolution decisions, including the statistical and economic assumptions made.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to confine insured credit union investments in corporates and U.S. Central to those that have obtained deposit insurance from NCUSIF.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should require NCUA to establish a program to promptly increase the capital of corporates and establish minimum capital standards.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to establish an available assets to ratios for NCUSIF.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to authorize NCUA to raise the basic NCUSIF equity ratio, available assets ratio, and premiums and delete its ability to set a normal operating level below the statutory minimum.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to provide for additional NCUA borrowing from Treasury on behalf of NCUSIF.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to place NCUSIF in a second position to general creditors but provide that this position rank ahead of uninsured shares.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to require that NCUA, in consultation with Congress and the credit union industry, identify specific unsafe and unsound practices and conditions that merit enforcement actions as well as the appropriate action, and promulgate these requirements by regulation.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to require NCUA to take appropriate enforcement action when unsafe and unsound conditions or practices, as specified in law or NCUA regulations, are identified.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Federal Credit Union Act to: (1) provide for a five-member NCUA Board, with two members ex officio, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board and the Secretary of the Treasury; and (2) authorize the two ex officio members to delegate their authority to another member of the Federal Reserve Board or to another official of the Department of the Treasury who is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.
Closed - Not Implemented
If there is a broad reform of the depository institution regulatory structure and Congress legislates an approach that places all examination and supervision functions under a single federal regulator, Congress should consider credit unions for inclusion once such an entity is operating effectively. The insurance function could then be placed under the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or under a separate entity.
Closed - Not Implemented
If the Central Liquidity Facility (CLF) is to continue to operate, Congress should sharply reduce CLF borrowing authority from the current level of 12 times subscribed capital and surplus.
Closed - Not Implemented
If CLF is to continue to operate, Congress should require the terms and conditions of CLF loans to be no more liberal than those made by the Federal Reserve.
Closed - Not Implemented
If CLF is to continue to operate, Congress should prohibit CLF loans or guarantees of any kind to NCUSIF, and, in the event NCUA Board certifies that CLF does not have sufficient funds to meet liquidity needs of credit unions, authorize the Department of the Treasury to lend to NCUSIF, rather than to CLF, in order to meet such needs. The power of federal credit unions to borrow from the Farm Credit Banks, as provided for in the Federal Credit Union Act, should be removed.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should amend the Community Development Credit Union Revolving Fund Transfer Act to designate an entity other than NCUA as administrator of the fund.
Closed - Not Implemented
If credit unions are to remain distinct from other depository institutions because, in part, of their common bond membership requirement, and if this requirement is intended to further the safe and sound operation of credit unions, Congress should consider stating this general intent in legislation and setting forth guidelines on the limits of occupational, associational, and community common bonds, as well as the purpose and limits of multiple group charters.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress should require that credit unions expense the 1-percent deposit over a reasonable period of time, to be determined by NCUA. Congress should at the same time emphasize that the assets represented by a failed credit union's insurance deposit should be available first to NCUSIF. This should be coordinated with and consistent with any legislation to recapitalize the Bank Insurance Fund, so as to avoid placing credit unions at a competitive advantage.
Closed - Not Implemented
If Congress does not require that the 1-percent deposit be expensed, NCUA should require credit unions to exclude the amount from both sides of their balance sheet when assessing capital adequacy. This would have the effect of not counting that amount as credit union capital.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
National Credit Union Administration 1. NCUA should require that credit unions with assets greater than $50 million file financial and statistical reports quarterly.
Closed - Implemented
This recommendation was implemented in the March 31, 1993 quarterly call reports.
National Credit Union Administration 2. NCUA should assess its real estate regulation and strengthen it to help ensure the sound underwriting of loans and their suitability for sale in the secondary market.
Closed - Implemented
In June 1991, NCUA issued comprehensive guidelines regarding real estate lending and believes this, rather than formal regulations, is an adequate action for the present.
National Credit Union Administration 3. NCUA should restrict the exclusions from its commercial lending limit set forth in 1987 to help ensure that credit unions are not used as vehicles underwriting large commercial ventures.
Closed - Implemented
A final rule addressing all of GAO concerns and recommendations went into effect January 1992.
National Credit Union Administration 4. NCUA should clarify the purpose, unique values, and requirements for use of each of its off-site monitoring tools. It should determine the appropriate recipients of the tools and distribute them accordingly within each region.
Closed - Implemented
The requirements for the use of off-site monitoring tools were added to the project list of the Office of Examination and Insurance and completed in fiscal year 1995.
National Credit Union Administration 5. NCUA should require documentation at the regional office level of examiners' reviews of all credit union call reports.
Closed - Not Implemented
NCUA believes its current procedure, in place at the time of the review, is adequate.
National Credit Union Administration 6. NCUA should invoke its statutory authority to refuse to accept state supervisors' examinations when a state regulatory authority lacks adequate independence from the credit union industry.
Closed - Implemented
NCUA claims that it uses its authority when necessary and has hired more staff to do this.
National Credit Union Administration 7. NCUA should establish a policy goal for examination frequency of state credit unions.
Closed - Implemented
As of 1992, NCUA has arranged to review any state credit union which does not have a state examination within 18 months.
National Credit Union Administration 8. NCUA should require all credit unions to submit copies of their supervisory committee audit reports to NCUA upon completion.
Closed - Not Implemented
NCUA believes this is unnecessary, prefers to use its discretion in setting such requirements, and has taken alternative methods to achieve goals.
National Credit Union Administration 9. The NCUA Inspector General should conduct a review focusing on NCUA handling of problem credit unions since mid-1990, specifically its use of enforcement powers, and submit a report to the NCUA Board.
Closed - Implemented
The Inspector General has conducted quality assurance reviews of three regions this year and will issue reports. The other three regions will be reviewed in fiscal year 1994, and the reviews will be followed by a final capping report.
National Credit Union Administration 10. NCUA should require that waivers and special charges be authorized by the Director, Office of Examination and Insurance, the General Counsel, and the regional director.
Closed - Not Implemented
NCUA claims it has an improved system to track any waivers given by regional directors and that amounts involved are small.
National Credit Union Administration 11. NCUA should establish minimum capital requirements for corporates and U.S. Central, taking all risks into account. In the interim, NCUA should establish a minimum level based on assets, and set a time frame for achieving this level. This could be achieved by increasing reserving requirements and using subordinated debt arrangements, such as the membership capital share deposits.
Closed - Implemented
NCUA issued a revised regulation (704), effective in late 1992, which incorporates all of the recommended features.
National Credit Union Administration 12. NCUA should restrict the investment powers of state-chartered corporates to the limits imposed on federal corporates.
Closed - Implemented
New corporate regulations have accomplished this recommendation.
National Credit Union Administration 13. NCUA should limit corporate credit union and U.S. Central investments in a single obligor to 1 percent of the investor's total assets. Exceptions should include obligations of the U.S. government, repurchase agreements that equal up to 2 percent of assets, and all investments by corporates in U.S. Central.
Closed - Not Implemented
NCUA disagrees with the recommendation and has now limited such investments to 5 percent of assets.
National Credit Union Administration 14. NCUA should limit corporate credit union and U.S. Central loans to one borrower to 1 percent of the lender's assets. NCUA should be authorized to make exceptions on a loan-by-loan basis.
Closed - Implemented
Per section 704, the loan limit is now 10 percent of capital. This constitutes a major improvement, but the amount still could exceed 1 percent of assets. No further limits are being considered. There is an additional requirement that loans to one borrower only be approved after review of several required credit considerations and a due diligence analysis.
National Credit Union Administration 15. NCUA should obtain more complete and timely information about corporate financial operations.
Closed - Implemented
NCUA now requires corporates to report in greater detail and more timely.
National Credit Union Administration 16. NCUA should establish a unit at NCUA headquarters that would be responsible for corporate oversight, examination, and enforcement actions.
Closed - Implemented
NCUA originally disagreed with this recommendation but changed its mind and is implementing a program of centralized oversight of corporates. In 1994, responsibility for supervision of corporates was given to a new director whose office will report directly to the NCUA Board.
National Credit Union Administration 17. NCUA should review the capital, assets, management, earnings, and liquidity (CAMEL) rating system for corporate credit unions to reduce the inconsistencies and focus more clearly on the component being rated.
Closed - Implemented
NCUA has developed and implemented a system for evaluating the risk associated with corporate credit unions that is different from the CAMEL ratings used for ordinary credit unions and for other depository institutions. This risk rating system reflects the unique nature of corporate credit unions. The system, known as the Corporate Risk Information System (CRIS), appears to resolve the concerns presented in the report.
National Credit Union Administration 18. NCUA should reduce the time lag in adjusting the Bank Insurance Fund's financing.
Closed - Implemented
NCUA changed the NCUSIF fiscal year to calendar year, effective for fiscal year 1994. This will reduce time lags from 7 months to 3 months.
National Credit Union Administration 19. NCUA should place NCUSIF on a calendar fiscal year.
Closed - Implemented
In November 1993, NCUA changed to calendar year, effective for fiscal year 1994.
National Credit Union Administration 20. NCUA should immediately establish separate supervision and insurance offices that report directly to the Board.
Closed - Not Implemented
NCUA disagrees with this recommendation.
National Credit Union Administration 21. NCUA should expand the information required on the financial and statistical reports in the areas of asset quality, interest rate sensitivity, management, and common bond.
Closed - Implemented
Action taken addressed all GAO concerns except that information on interest rate sensitivity is still inadequate.
National Credit Union Administration 22. NCUA should examine all NCUSIF-insured credit unions in such states.
Closed - Implemented
NCUA claims that all state credit unions may be examined if supervision of that state is not credible. In 2 states, it is now examining all credit unions.
National Credit Union Administration 23. NCUA should develop policy guidance concerning the use of these provisions and monitor their use.
Closed - Implemented
NCUA claims it will continue to adhere to its criteria for assisting credit unions.
National Credit Union Administration 24. NCUA should adhere to the criteria for assisting credit unions.
Closed - Implemented
NCUA claims it will continue to adhere to its criteria for assisting credit unions.

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