CFPB Launches New Public Petition Option

You can propose a new rule, ask to amend an old one, or try to repeal a bad one

To make it easier for the public to participate in rulemaking, on Feb. 16, 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched a new system that lets citizens directly engage with the agency to submit petitions for new rules, suggest amendments to existing rules, and call for the repeal of rules they believe are no longer effective. Citizen petitions will be posted on public dockets for review and comment.

”Americans should be able to easily exercise their Constitutional rights without hiring a high-priced lawyer or lobbyist,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra, said in an announcement. “Our new program will broaden access to the agency’s rulemaking process.” The CFPB noted that while members of the public have always had the ability to comment on proposed rules, they have not believed the actual proposal process was open to them without access to expensive legal help or lobbyists. The new system attempts to open up the rulemaking process to all.

Key Takeaways

  • On Feb. 16, 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched a new system to allow citizens to directly participate in the rulemaking process.
  • The CFPB says the new system will further advance the agency's commitment to transparency and listening to concerns from the public.
  • The new policy is also driven by the agency's desire to close what it sees as a revolving door in which former employees become lobbyists for special interests that wish to influence agency rulemaking.
  • Former agency and government employees who become lobbyists will be asked to submit their petitions for public inspection as well.
  • Procedures for proposing a new rule, amending an existing one, or repealing one the public deems ineffective are spelled out on the agency's website.

A Committment to Transparency

The CFPB expressed its commitment to transparency and listening to the concerns, suggestions, and ideas of the public. The agency anticipates that public petitions will help the CFPB identify consumer protection issues that require reform, rulemaking, or further clarification.

The new process follows recommendations issued by the Administrative Conference of the United States and adopted Dec. 4, 2014, that improve transparency and ensure that the public has an open opportunity to petition the government.

Closing the Revolving Door

In an attempt to address problems with the "revolving door," in which former government and agency employees become lobbyists for private interests, lobbyists will now be asked to submit their petitions for public inspection under the new policy.

The revolving door has not only been one of the reasons regular citizens have felt unable to participate in the rulemaking process, it has also resulted in a concern on the part of the CFPB that "some former employees may have a financial incentive to exploit confidential information to which they may have had access." In some cases, the agency says, this behavior may even violate criminal law. Because of this, the CFPB also recently announced new staff guidance to report former government employees that may be misusing information they obtained while working in the government.

Consumer complaints are not the same as the rulemaking process and should be submitted through the CFPB’s complaint website.

The Petitions Process

When petitions are submitted to the CFPB, the agency follows the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act, a federal law that establishes how agencies make rules and adjudicate litigation that results from enforcement.

Petitions can be submitted by email to petitions@cfpb.gov or by mail, hand delivery, or courier:

Rulemaking Petitions Docket
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
1700 G Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20552

Your submission should state that it is a petition under section 553(e) of the Administrative Procedure Act and should include the following information:

  • Your contact information (full name, address, telephone number, email address)
  • The type of action you are requesting (e.g., whether the CFPB should issue a new rule or repeal or amend an existing rule)
  • The factual and legal reasons for the proposed action
  • The expected effects the proposed action will have on relevant parties (e.g., consumers, industry, enforcement authorities)

Since all petitions, including attachments and other supporting materials, will become part of the public record and are subject to public disclosure, you should not include proprietary information or sensitive personal information, such as account numbers or Social Security numbers, or names of other individuals.

The CFPB will not edit your petition to remove identifying or contact information.

The CFPB may, at its discretion, decide not to post submissions and other materials that include any of the following:

  • Duplicate identical submissions (submitted by the same submitter(s) through different means)
  • Copyrighted material owned by someone other than the submitter
  • Confidential business information (CBI)
  • Spam content
  • Threats of harm or violence
  • Submissions that are disavowed by the named author or submitter

If your submission is posted and assigned a docket number, it will be considered a petition and will receive a final response. Petitions that have already been received can be viewed and commented on at the CFPB Petitions for Rulemaking website.

Article Sources
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  1. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). "Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Launches New Way for the Public to Petition the Agency for Action."

  2. Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS). "Administrative Conference Recommendation 2014-6."

  3. CFPB. "Ethics Guidance to Protect the Public Trust and Detect Revolving Door Misconduct."

  4. CFPB. "Ethics Guidance for Engaging with Former Federal Employees."

  5. CFPB. "Having a problem with a financial product or service?"

  6. Cornell Law School. "Administrative Procedure Act."

  7. CFPB. "Petitions for rulemaking."