A day after suggesting credit unions that question the NCUA's spending might not be acting in the best interests of their members, the agency's chairman, Debbie Matz is doing some fence-mending.
In a prepared statement released Friday morning, Matz said she regretted her comments were perceived as knocking credit unions' management.
"My comments have been construed by some as a lack of faith in credit union leadership, which is not at all what I intended, nor what I believe, and for that I apologize," Matz wrote.
Along with that mea culpa, Matz apparently reached out personally to CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle, who had taken her to task following her original comment, made Thursday during testimony before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.
In a prepared statement of his own, Nussle said he appreciated the gesture.
Matz does not seem to be backing down on the issue at the heart of the controversy — the NCUA's policy of passing its annual budget without holding hearings and permitting credit unions and other industry stakeholders to comment.
In her testimony Thursday, Matz said it would be inappropriate to give entities the NCUA regulates input into how the agency configures its budget. She made much the same point in her statement Friday.
"Undermining the ability of this agency to protect the savings that 100 million Americans have trusted to the 6,206 credit unions NCUA insures could end up costing those members if we are hit with another financial crisis," Matz wrote. "I consider cutting budgets and staff in the current environment, in which we face a multitude of risks, a penny-wise-pound-foolish approach."
Ironically, Thursday's imbroglio over NCUA's budget came just hours after the board voted to reduce fiscal year 2015 spending by $1.3 million as part of its mid-year budget review. Even that action failed to mollify some critics.
Lucy Ito, president and CEO of the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors, rapped NCUA for handing the savings over to federal credit union in the form of reduced operating fees, rather than using them to reduce the overhead transfer rate all credit union pay.
"We are deeply troubled that NCUA's reference to the use of savings from its budget reprogramming has been limited to reducing the operating fees for federal credit unions," Ito said in a statement Friday.