On March 2, 2022, Jonathan Pompan was quoted in Inside the CFPB on the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) recent announcement that members of the public can submit petitions for rulemaking directly to the bureau. This means individuals can request the agency pursue a new rule, amend an existing one, or repeal a rule without hiring a middleman.
According to the article, the bureau has provided an email address for submitting petitions, in addition to allowing submissions via mail, hand delivery, or courier. The submissions will be reviewed by the Office of the Executive Secretary in consultation with the legal division, and only those deemed appropriate will be considered petitions and will be posted and assigned a docket number.
The new process, strictly speaking, doesn’t really broaden public access, according to Pompan. He said the new announcement can lead to a perception that previously the public didn’t have the ability to comment. “There’s always been an administrative process,” said Pompan. “Whether or not that’s been followed may depend on the eye of the beholder.”
Pompan said the move reminded him of the early years of the bureau when it was heavily marketing itself to consumers. “There’s nothing stopping one from communicating directly with the director or with the agency, but this does offer an additional channel that is both available and hopefully is not summarily ignored based on who is making the submission,” he said. “The first amendment right to petition government is core to good government and democracy but there’s a long history of requests made to government agencies that get ignored.”