The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may keep its name after all, marking a feeble end to a nearly yearlong, ultimately fruitless saga.
Under Acting Director Mick Mulvaney, the CFPB rolled back jurisdiction over the automotive finance industry in 2018 and seemingly picked up a new name. Mulvaney claims that when the bureau was formed in 2010 under the Dodd-Frank Act, it was to be known as the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
Critics of the change accused Mulvaney -- who was named acting director of the agency in November 2017 after Richard Cordray resigned -- of shifting focus from consumers by placing the word in the middle of the title rather than at the beginning. Nevertheless, starting in March, the name appeared on formal communication from the bureau, on a new crest for the bureau and in the headquarters lobby. Branding on the bureau's website never changed.
"The CFPB doesn't exist. The CFPB has never existed," Mulvaney told bankers in April in a speech in Washington. "I'm not sure who made that decision. I think I can guess; she might be in the Senate."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., one of the creators of the CFPB, is now calling for an internal investigation into the true cost of moving the letters around, The Hill reports.
"We are concerned that the name change effort imposes unnecessary and significant costs on taxpayers and the business community, deprives the CFPB of funds it can use to protect consumers, and violates legal requirements," Warren wrote in a letter to Mark Bialek, inspector general for the Federal Reserve System and CFPB.
As stated in Warren's letter, public records indicate the name change would cost the agency between $9 million and $19 million, and that updating internal databases, regulatory filings and disclosure forms would cost finance companies regulated by the bureau about $300 million.
But as Mulvaney's new replacement, Kathy Kraninger, could tell you, names are harder to change on paper.
As seen on social media, Kraninger sent an internal memo to CFPB staff that one of her first acts as director would be to halt the "name correction initiative," though she cares much more about what the CFPB does than what it's called, she added.
"We have a legal name but will be using our colloquial name and branded acronym 'CFPB,' " Kraninger wrote in the memo. "Many of us have legal names but use nicknames without much confusion."
She added: "My birth certificate says Kathleen, but I also answer to Kathy. I think we can do the same here."
The abrupt end to a costly debate is an ironic way to close out Mulvaney's tenure on a bureau he long considered financially inefficient. Before taking his position, Mulvaney openly criticized the bureau's costly building renovations before proceeding to redecorate the lobby and revamp the bureau's letterhead with the BCFP branding.
As American Banker notes, Dodd-Frank referred to the CFPB and the BCFP in its statutory language.
In initiating the bureau's half-baked name change, Mulvaney succeeded only in distracting and confusing the public and the media outlets who cover the bureau.
Here's to hoping Kraninger's tenure as director isn't bogged down by the arrangement of letters in the lobby.