Industry Letters

Examination Questionnaires and Office of the Ombudsman

November 15, 2002


Re: Examination Questionnaires and Office of the Ombudsman

As you are aware, in an effort to accomplish the Department’s central mission of preserving the safety and soundness of the banking system in an effective and efficient manner, the Banking Department developed a detailed questionnaire in late 1998 to help it measure the effectiveness of its examination process. The questionnaire focuses on the process followed by the Department and provides bank management with an opportunity to raise their specific concerns.

The process has been administered by an impartial ombudsman charged with the responsibility of addressing issues arising out of the questionnaires and recommending appropriate action, when and where necessary. The ombudsman also addresses complaints arising out of our examination procedures.

The purpose of this Letter is to reemphasize our commitment to this process and to remind you that your active participation will help us improve our pre-examination communications, the reasonableness of our examination requests, the adequacy of our decision making processes and the overall quality of our examination reports.

I would also note that in the several years since the ombudsman program has been in effect, we believe it has been helpful in resolving disputes and improving our communications with the industry.

In this regard, I would like to advise you of some recent changes I have made to this process. First, I have asked Gene Brooks, Acting First Assistant Counsel, to serve as ombudsman for this program. I would emphasize that Mr. Brooks will be independent in performing these responsibilities. Second I have asked him to be proactive in reaching out to, and visiting with, the industry to alert you to the availability of these programs and his availability to address complaints.

I would urge you to take advantage of these programs to help ensure your general satisfaction with our examination processes.

It is our continuing belief that these programs will enhance our ongoing supervisory process and enable the Department to meet its mandates in the most efficient way possible. Should you have any questions regarding these matters, please contact Mr. Brooks at (212) 618-6951 through mid-December. After that time, he can be reached at (212) 709-1663. Alternatively, you may, if you choose, call your contact persons at the Department.

Very truly yours,

Elizabeth McCaul
Superintendent of Banks