As Prepared for Delivery on November 18, 2021
For nearly two years, I have been heartened and impressed by how people are meeting the challenge of this pandemic. Among NCUA’s employees, I’ve witnessed steadfast dedication, unflagging professionalism, and a deep commitment to the agency’s mission that goes above and beyond the call of duty. This agency is blessed to have so many capable men and women who have responded to the call of public service.
With the agency now enforcing a vaccine mandate, I am now, for the second time, calling on the agency to bring back NCUA employees onsite. We should move to normal operations in this “new normal” environment as soon as practicable but definitely by the first quarter of next year. In fact, when my office recently spoke to the head of our union, many of our examiners are eager to return onsite now. They have felt this way for months. Many of our credit unions want to have the examiners back. I have quite frankly been surprised by how many credit unions have told me that these one-on-one interactions make them a better credit union, and this interaction cannot suffice on video chats.
Additionally, if we do not move to normal operations soon, I fear that we will miss fraud and other safety and soundness issues that will not be found on the telephone or video conferencing. Further, I worry that new employees are not getting the same onboarding experience in a digital world. You cannot replace face-to-face human interaction.
I have also spoken with a lot of leagues and credit unions since the onset of COVID-19, and what I’ve witnessed myself has been equally encouraging in terms of the credit union’s response to the pandemic. While making necessary adjustments to credit unions’ service models, like encouraging the use of online options and routing customers to drive-thru services to limit potential exposure, credit unions have shown foresight and prudence while providing critical financial services to their member-owners.
I appreciate the update today on the Central Liquidity Facility (CLF). I am concerned that some of the temporary legislative changes the agency was able to achieve in 2020 for the CLF will not be renewed. If that happens, we must plan for what will happen when our borrowing multiplier decreases for the CLF. I also am concerned that we will no longer be able to have corporate credit unions act as an agent to make membership more economically feasible, so we need to communicate to credit unions what is going to happen if the provision is not extended in the law.
I have offered to do what I can to assist in this endeavor, but I am following Chairman Harper’s lead as the spokesperson of the agency.
Shifting gears, I am delighted that the NCUA was able to extend the flexibility around conducting virtual annual meetings. I also believe it is worth noting that I also support extending the COVID-19 flexibility the NCUA issued for prompt corrective action, loan originations, and loan obligations.
In this time of trial and challenge, we are reminded that times of trial and challenge bring out the best in all of us. We are also reminded that our nation has faced even greater disruptions in the past, and we’ll face disruptions in the future. But as the old adage reminds us, “this too shall pass.” And when it does pass, it is my great hope that this agency, the credit union industry, and all of our communities will be even stronger from the lessons we take from this experience.
I have no further questions or comments and yield back.