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Finding a Home for the CFPB

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Location, location, location.

That’s the real estate mantra, and the new consumer bureau is following the professional’s lead. We are getting a permanent home, and it’s all about location. Sometime next year, we will move right across the street from the White House complex to 1700 G Street, Northwest, Washington D.C.

The White House is one of the most frequent destinations for tourists who come to Washington – if only just to walk by and to get a picture taken. Our vision is a building nearby that is the clearly identifiable home of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We want Americans to see where we work, to know that this is a place where financial cops are trained, and to be reminded that we are always looking out. We want this agency to have a very tangible presence for anyone who visits Washington.

In fact, we want more. We want the building to have as much public space as possible. We’re hoping that we can open up parts of the lobby and the adjacent patio for families and service groups, for foreign visitors and local school kids, for anyone who comes to town. This agency belongs to the American public, and we want the American public to be welcome.

If we get this right, we hope there will be space for displays, perhaps featuring financial education materials and tools to help consumers choose the mortgages, credit cards, and other financial products and services are best for them. But whatever we can get into the lobby, we want people to know that they own this building and that the people who work there are working for them.

The building is pretty dated, and it needs considerable renovation to update it to current energy and environmental standards. The outside spaces and the lobby need repair, and the office spaces need to be realigned so that we can accommodate more people. In other words, there’s a lot of work to be done. But that seems fitting for a new agency that is trying to make the consumer financial markets work for everyone. Making change starts with a vision.

  • Dpersons08

    I’m excited that you could get a nice location. I’m worried that you’ll continue the revolving door that got us into the mess that led to the closing of the former agency that occupied that building. As an Ohio Democrat, I urge you to only hire people for the new CFPB who have no connection to the FED, Chase and the other big banks.

  • Dpersons08

    Your lobby idea sounds very informative. Perhaps we could take students to DC and make this place one of the stops.

    • Get A Job

      Oh yes,

      I am sure that every school group will want to skip the Smithsonian, White House, etc. and go to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau first. It will certainly be a top destination for tourists from around the globe.

      What are these people thinking? They are attempting to spend our taxpayer dollars to create a place where, realistically, no one wants to go. A tourist attraction? I don’t think so.

      If the people leading this new Bureau are focused on developing their headquarters into a tourist destination and spending millions to renovate and promote such location – then they won’t be focused on their reason for being.

      If the people leading this new Bureau really believe the public is going to want to place the CFPB on their list of places to visit while in Washington D.C., then I believe we need to seriously question their judgment and common sense. The persons leading this Bureau appear to be more about appearance, and promoting themselves, than they are in overseeing some segment of our financial economy.

      • David Higuera

        I’ll be visiting the new CFPB next time I’m in Washington. And bringing my family. Count on it!

        • Get A Job

          Are you serious?

  • WTB02

    Why don’t you locate your operation outside the Washington Metro area where the employee’s housing costs will be lower, commuting times shorter and where the environmental impact will be lower?

    In addition, I’m sure that less expensive office space is available elsewhere that doesn’t require expensive renovations (even though this will probably be buried into the rent you will still be paying for it). Locating in a state like Missouri or Indiana would put your operation in a more geographically central location closer to more American consumers. Headquartering yet another Federal agency in Washington DC is sending the wrong message about large organizational priorities being unaligned from the people and markets that they serve and service.

  • Patdenny49

    I just heard you on NPR and came straight to this website. It’s so easy to find you and to communicate, so far. Thank you for the easy access. I have read several of your books and think you understand the plight of the average person far better than most people in Washington, D.C. People like you are in short supply there.

    I hope the CFPB will have fangs, unlike the SEC and some others that think regulation is a four-letter word. You are to be commended for getting as far as you have in starting this agency, given the enormous resistance you face from the top 5% and others that have been taken in by the top 5%. I pray that you be given the job of head of the agency, and I pray harder that you will consider taking it because I can’t think of anyone else who would tell it like it is as you have done. It would be a true public service!

  • Get A Job

    Let me understand this.

    Our nation’s government has spent its citizens into a debt in the trillions of dollars. Each citizen’s share of the national debt currently stands at a little over $45,000. Our federal government is adding $4 billion per day to our nation’s debt.

    And our government’s response? Create a new governmental agency. Let’s choose one of the highest cost locations as its headquarters. Let’s spend millions to renovate an old building. Let’s spend millions to make it a place where tourists can come enjoy the lobby and patio as it “belongs to the American public…”.

    As for this member of the American public, I do not want your protection. I do not want your expense. I do not need more government making my life more complicated.

    I believe it is a bit arrogant of you and your agency to attempt to make yourselves a “tourist destination”. Quite frankly, save your money. The last place I want to see when I travel to Washington, DC is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. No disrespect intended, but you will not be one of my stops.

    I am weary of bureaucrats, such as those blowing their horn on this website, attempting to create a need for themselves when no need exists.

    It seems disingenuous of you to, on one hand, promote consumers being protected from the big bad banks who you purport are out to defraud every citizen. You say you want financial fairness and fiscal responsibility. You demand that debit card processors only charge their costs and to eliminate their profits, as an example. Then, your agency, on the other hand, says let’s spend tens of millions of taxpayer money on staff, a high rent location, extensive renovations and a place where tourists can visit.

    As a citizen, a taxpayer, and your boss, I want you to know I request you live the fiscal responsibility that you are promoting for Americans. And please, spare us the lobby.

    • Dboals

      In a democracy, it’s hard to blame the government for doing something you don’t want (need, approve of). WE are the government! We elected a government in the last ten years that brought two trillion dollar wars (not budgeted) and failed to regulate key sectors of the economy (real estate and Wall Street) that tanked the economy. Democrats and Republicans are both to blame. And we are the ones who elected them! All those who voted them into office are to blame…..and indirectly all who did not vote for them.
      Now we have to dig ourselves out and it is not productive to throw dirt on the folks who want to help us out of the hole.

      • Get A Job

        How is the CFPB helping us “out of the hole”? It looks like it will cost us $300 million per year, and our freedom of financial choice.

    • Dburn

      Yeah lets save the money for more bank bail-outs so they can take home 100s of billion in
      bonuses. It’s simply amazing when fiscal responsibility seems to stop right at
      the Banks front door. If this agency is to do any good it should be high profile. Out of sight – out of mind. Congress should see it every time there is a bill before them to cut its funding. The agency knows it has a job to do,unlike the captured regulators from other agencies. Part of that job is accessibility and visibility just like the old days when a cop walked the beat and the station houses were/are located right where tyhe crimes are committed.

      Where have you been when we have been shoveling trillions at the banks with reach-around alphabet programs? This is the only investment that Washington has put up for the middle class’s protection. You bet their performance will be graded. They know it and I think they want that. If they don’t perform it won’t be their fault since the banks own congress.

      Compare this refurbished building with the “investments” made in the banks. I ‘m sure your
      one happy person about the nearly 400 Billion paid out in bonuses since 2008
      where a significant percentage of it shouldn’t have been paid as the banks
      wouldn’t exist. That’s all we got out of the greatest transfer of wealth in history.

      Say, You wouldn’t be in banking per chance?

       

      • Get A Job

        Another example of persons posting information here that are filled with misinformation and, frankly, lies.

        Let’s look at the facts.

        First, the bank “bail-out”, which I happen to believe was wrong, did not cost the taxpayers of this nation a dime. Again, I am against the TARP program. But, facts are facts. The government has been repaid almost all of the TARP funds it invested, with more payments to come. Not to mention the dividends and warrant profits paid to the government.

        Second, the FDIC is often misconstrued as costing the taxpayers. The FDIC is not funded by taxpayers, but rather by insurance premiums paid by banks. The persons getting the short end of the shaft on the banking problems are actually the healthier banks in the US as they are having to pay higher insurance premiums to absorb the losses from those banks that have failed.

        I don’t see where your mention of bonuses is of relevance to the argument. How do bonuses paid have relevance to my comments regarding the government waste involved in spending our taxpayer dollars to buy and renovate a grand location for a government agency no one really wants to visit?

        I am a realist that understands that both the interests of banks and consumers need to be balanced. There are already agencies, laws and regulations in place to do help provide this balance. We don’t need yet another agency to waste our taxpayer monies. And I don’t want some agency telling me, as a consumer and an American, what financial products and services I should buy.

  • Mutt Williams

    WHOA WHOA – why not do your job and EARN your way to better digs say 5-6 years down the road after you have accomplished something, anything. But before you go SHOPPING (she shops just like a woman – B. Dylan) for your new digs – try earning your way. Reminder: you have done nothing but write blogs to date.

    Oh and please no renovtions. Have a vision or two about raising the necessary funding through what you do – not on our taxpayer money. Although you wopuld not know as an appointee – you are paid you enormous salary on taxpayer money and we are watching the expenditures these days. So settle down and start working. Come talk to us in 5 years after you have done some thing.

  • Get A Job

    I have posted two messages over the past few days regarding this blog. Yes, these messages were critical of the decision discussed regarding the CFPB’s new location. But my messages contained no offensive language, no threats, and used no swearing.

    Both of these posts were blocked and a message provided saying they had to be reviewed by an administrator.

    If the CFPB is about transparency, why does it need to block my posts that are critical of its decisions?

    • http://www.consumerfinance.gov CFPB Web Team

      Get A Job,

      Most comments go live immediately. We’re using a commenting system that automatically screens for commercial promotions, posts laced with profanity, etc. Sometimes it catches things that do not violate our blog comment policy, and we then manually approve the comment. As detailed in our comment policy (http://www.consumerfinance.gov/comment-policy/), we don’t moderate for viewpoint. Thank you for alerting us that the comments were held up by the automatic screening system.

      During business hours, our review of moderated comments happens pretty quickly; it takes a bit longer on weekends, especially holiday weekends. Apologies for the delay; your comments are live now.

      • Get A Job

        Sincere thanks for the explanation. Thank you.

  • Yayaoffive

    If you want to be representing the people, wouldn’t Capitol Hill be a better location? As opposed to an imperial White House with so many czars?

  • Taxpayer watching the waste

    Thank god not all government beaurcrats take this view, otherwise we would be footing the bill for every agency in the government trying to get a “tourist” location across from the whitehouse. What a waste of money and real estate.

    Your comment on location, location, location should be in getting work done where the banking happens, get space in the major banks so you can really see what happens, not the White House where your sugar daddy is located.

  • Truenorthadvisor

    So your paying big bucks to be inside the beltway. That will leave less money for education and regulation. Why didn’t you consider moving into one of the many empty buildings that have been forclosed on by commerical loan companies. I would imagine Bank of America and several other companies which owe the IRS money could fork over.
    Being inside the beltway also makes it much easier for the lobbyists to come calling. There are plenty of locations in the heartland of this country that would be much cheaper and probably come fully furnished.

    Are you going to spend money buying new furniture. There are some great companies around the country that sell used furniture for twenty to thirty cents on the dollar.

    This agency needs to be run like a start up. Bare bones offices and smart people.

    People from outside the industry can be flown a lot cheaper to airline hubs than to Washington. Train them then send them back out into the field. If you expect to have any success and trust by the American public then you have to think like an entrepeneur not like a Washington bureaucrat.

  • David Higuera

    Yay!! Very exciting that you’ll be in such a visible space. You’re right. It’s important that the American people can see the CFPB at work, in terms of their finances and literally… Tangible. That’s one of the things that Washington tends to lack.

  • David Higuera

    If the CFPB can accomplish even half its mission, you will be hard-pressed to find a more important or relevant agency in D.C.! All the nay-sayers and “gommint waste” TP-spewers on this blog, just remember this: If the CFPB had been around 10 years ago, five years ago… we would never have had the subprime mortgage meltdown and the subsequent meltdown of the entire global economy. But you’re right… it’s just another silly ol’ waste of money taking up prime real estate! I’m sure the big banks have learned their lesson, and there’s no need for an agency that looks out for consumers now.

    • Getajob

      Dear David,

      I am not a tea party supporter. But I am against government waste. And it is a huge waste of my tax dollars to have the CFPB purchase a prime location across from the White House and to renovate it into some type of palacial office space and tourist attraction.

      But I offer you a challenge, because you, as many others, make statements that I believe have no basis.

      You state, “If the CFPB had been around 10 years ago, five years ago… we would never have had the subprime mortgage meltdown and the subsequent meltdown of the entire global economy.”

      That’s a pretty big statement.

      My challenge is this – please explain to me how the CFPB would have prevented any of these problems if it had been in existence.

      If you can’t explain that, then at least explain this to me – what has the CFPB done so far to protect consumers?

      I think it is downright ridiculous to state that the CFPB would have prevented the “meltdown of the entire global economy”. You are obviously not one who is knowledgeable about economics. The CFPB would have had no jurisdiction over what happens in other nations. A myriad of issues occurred globally that created financial problems. Greece and Portugal, for example, have national debt that they cannot afford to pay. What could the CFPB done to prevent that? Ireland had a huge real estate bubble. What would the CFPB done to prevent that? The same thing happened in Great Britain. I could go on and on – the CFPB, frankly, wouldn’t have prevented a thing.

      Please accept my challenge and provide a reasonable and informed answer.

  • Dboals

    Find a cheaper place in the sticks? No way! A central location is a clear signal that this Bureau is here to stay and will have a key responsibility to help level the field in an economy that is increasingly brutal, exploitative, secretive and downright dishonest.
    A nation that spends twice as much as the rest of the world combined in military (to provide collective security) should be able to protect individual citizens from unfair and dishonest elements of the “system” that have ruthlessly destroyed INDIVIDUAL security. The poor and the middle class have been the victims of a ruthless machine designed for profit at the expense of everything else.

    • Get A Job

      I am not even sure where to start with all of the false and irrational statements made in this post. The entire economy is “brutal, exploitative, secretive and downright dishonest”.

      Perhaps you should choose another nation, and economy.

  • Worried

    Why would you waste money to be a White House neighbor when you are fighting over funding with congress right now? This is the kind of waste that makes you look dumb. You want to regulate, but only from a palace. I guess it was summed up by you saying, “My first choice is a strong consumer agency.” “My second choice is no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.”

    I am afraid you are meaning the American people’s blood and teeth.

    Why can’t you teach financial responsibilty by starting with a good example? You are just becoming part of the problem. You are assimilated.

  • Rich Robinson

    Based on a review of this/your web site, let me offer high praise by saying the agency has made an excellent start. I was going to suggest an email notification list, but you have already done that. My other suggestion was going to be about financial education (we teach people math but we do not teach them about money is this capital driven system). Please focus the education via videos and animation as much as possible. My observation is that many people simply can not understand money and financial issues in the abstract of “just” numbers; a disconnect sets in very early.
    Please disregard the following suggestion if it is politically insane or outside the scope of the agency. For the long term please advise which laws we as consumers need to lobby to change to improve consumer protection. There are often legal restrictions or loop holes that effectively prevent the consumer from seeking effective restitution.
    Finally, what should consumers try to do to insure that this agency will have adequate funding going forward to do it’s job?

    • Lori Hoeksema

      The team that Elizabeth has put in place to implement this new Fed. Agency consists of two women who were formerly employed by Morgan Stanley and Freddie Mac. I don’t view this as a good start for the Agency….in fact, I about choked on my coffee. But frankly, should any of us be surprised that she’s sided with more foxes that have already raided the hen house? Hey, status quo, Elizabeth….how unrefreshing.

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