CBA Comment - Web-Based Quantitative Testing of POS/ATM Overdraft Disclosure Forms

November 3, 2015


Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ATTN: PRA Office

1700 G Street NW Washington, DC 20552


RE:     OMB Control Number: 3170-XXXX, Docket No: CFPB-2015-0037 - Web- Based Quantitative Testing of Point of Sale/ATM (POS/ATM) Overdraft Disclosure Forms


Dear PRA Officer:


The Consumer Bankers Association (CBA)1 writes in response to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (Bureau) request for approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) to conduct a national web-based survey of 8,000 individuals as part of the Bureau’s study of overdraft protection services.2   CBA appreciates the Bureau’s consideration of the consumers experience with and understanding of overdraft services.  We believe it is important to fully understand what consumers know about overdraft services and how they choose to use them to meet their liquidity needs.  CBA strongly supports effective consumer protections and, specifically, the principles of customer choice, transparency and fairness in deposit account relationships. We appreciate the opportunity to share our suggestions and work with the Bureau in carrying out its mission.


The CFPB should withdraw its request until such time as it can produce a model survey on which the public can comment.


We reiterate here our concerns with the Bureau’s approach to its request under PRA as stated in our September 30, 2015, joint-trade letter sent to David Silberman, Associate Director for Research, Markets, and Regulations.3   As asserted in the letter, CBA is concerned that the Bureau did not include in its submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a draft survey instrument on which the public could comment, despite OMB guidance requiring publication of the survey simultaneous with the Bureau’s request for comment.  In its request, the Bureau merely states the principle purpose of the survey without any indication to tone, length or any specifics commenters would need to make informed opinions.  We believe the public is at a greatly disadvantaged position to submit substantive comments due to the lack of specific survey questions and we urge the Bureau to withdraw its current request until such time as it is able to produce a model survey.


Submitting a draft survey instrument as part of an information collection request is required by Federal guidelines implementing the PRA and increases the opportunity for important public feedback on the survey.  Guidelines issued by the Administrator of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs state that the “PRA requires that the agency publish a 60-day notice in the Federal Register to obtain public comment on the proposed collection, prior to submitting the information collection to OMB.  At the time this notice is published, agencies must have at least a draft survey instrument available for the public to review.”4   Accordingly, the Bureau should not withhold the survey instrument until a later date.

The Bureau’s decision to withhold publication of the survey undermines the PRA review process.  If, as here, the Bureau provides only a generalized description of topics to be explored by survey questions and withholds publication of the draft survey instrument until after the first round of comments is received, the Bureau will limit the public’s and OMB’s ability to assist the Bureau in producing a survey that will yield information of sufficient quality for its intended purpose. As OMB notes in its guidance, the PRA review process is intended, in part, to ensure that “the proposed collection of information will result in information that will be collected, maintained, and used in a way consistent with the OMB and agency information quality guidelines, or they should not propose to collect the information.”5   These Information Quality Guidelines, in turn, designate as “influential information” that which will have a “clear and substantial impact on important public policies or important private sector decisions.”6   The Guidelines require that agencies hold information designated as influential “to a higher standard of reproducibility and transparency than information that is not defined as influential...(continue reading)