Saturday, February 5, 2011, 8:04 AM

Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Launches Website: Ms. Warren wants your thoughts

Posted by: Chris Jones


"OPEN FOR SUGGESTIONS" are the words that appear across the first page of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's new official Beta website, which was launched late last week at: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/. Special Assistant to the President, and chief architect of the Bureau, Elizabeth Warren has been quoted as saying that the website has been launched primarily as a mechanism for "starting a conversation" with the public. In many respects, at this point, and superficially its primary function appears to be that of an electronic suggestion box. As with many things about the Bureau, appearances are deceiving, and drawing that one is a mistake, which (in prime time soap opera fashion) we will reveal at the end of this post. As one might expect at this point in the Bureau's evolution, the website does not contain particularly detailed information, and it is clearly aimed more at members of the general public than at the entities and industry that it was created to regulate. For instance, there is a time line at the bottom of the first page, which will help the unindoctrinated catch up with the general history of the agency, though not nearly as completely as if you read past entries on this blog. It also contains some responses to initial suggestions and questions, as well as an open letter from Holly Patreaus that more or less introduces and outlines the mission of the Office of Service Member Affairs. We will be watching the development of the website as it too evolves from its current fluffy public relations appearance into what we anticipate and expect will be a site full of real time information that can be accessed and utilized by regulated entities. And, we will clearly not be the only ones watching. The launching of the website, even in its current marshmallow flavor has received substantial notice and comment in such news outlets as: the L.A. Times, Huffington Post (or is it AOL?), The Hill, and, according to Google, over 108 other related articles. While we have not read them all, the Huffington Post article, which discusses the Bureau's real intent in "starting a conversation" with the public, which is to begin its data mining and trend identification, is insightful and worth perusing.

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