After quietly beginning to institute a new name at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau earlier this year, Acting Director Mick Mulvaney is making the change official.
The new name is more of a tweak than a reinvention – the agency formerly known as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will now be the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, Mulvaney told an audience of more than 1,300 bankers at an American Bankers Association conference.
That’s the name listed in Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act, which created the agency in 2010. Mulvaney pointed out this fact in his April 11 appearance before the House Committee on Financial Services. “The organization is the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection,” he said. “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau does not exist…The CFPB technically does not exist.” Mulvaney acknowledged that the agency’s lawsuits up to that point had been brought in the name of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a practice he vowed to change.
No one is quite sure who switched to the CFPB formulation or what their reasoning was, according to American Banker, although Mulvaney directed a dig at bureau founder Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.) on the subject. Warren has been at odds with Mulvaney over his leadership of the bureau since Trump named him interim director in November.
“I’m trying to get in the habit of now saying the ‘BCFP.’ It’s really, really hard to do that when you’ve said the CFPB for so long,” Mulvaney said at the ABA conference. “We do call it the bureau and were hoping that that sticks.”
The bureau also has requested the Associated Press update the agency’s listing in its stylebook to reflect the change.
Critics of the move argued that it essentially threw away years of media exposure and brand recognition, as well as reordering the bureau’s focus and priorities.
“Only an idiot would walk away from such a successful investment in this brand,” Karl Frisch, executive director of consumer watchdog organization Allied Progress, told the Washington Examiner. “An idiot or someone who wants to make the CFPB look, feel, and sound more bureaucratic and less like an accessible champion for consumers.”
This move is the latest in a string of tweaks to rein in the bureau that Mulvaney has made during his tenure, including a rewording of its mission statement and a request to Congress to greatly curtail the bureau’s powers.
Mulvaney began the rechristening with a soft rollout, updating the language in bureau press releases and other announcements in mid-April, albeit inconsistently.
The bureau’s new name also shows up in the bureau’s new seal, which was unveiled March 30, although no reference to the new formulation was made in the announcement. The seal debuted in the announcement of the bureau’s April 20 Wells Fargo fine, replacing the agency’s former lowercase green acronym logo.
References to the ‘Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’ and ‘CFPB’ still abound on the agency website, email addresses still end in ‘cfpb.gov’, and its twitter handle is still @CFPB – at least for now.