About the OCC
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) charters, regulates, and supervises all national banks and federal savings associations. It also supervises the Federal branches and agencies of foreign banks. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the OCC has four district offices plus an office in London to supervise the international activities of national banks.
The OCC was established in 1863 as a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The OCC is headed by the Comptroller, who is appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, for a 5-year term. The Comptroller also is a director of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and NeighborWorks® America.
The OCC's nationwide staff of examiners conducts onsite reviews of national banks and federal savings associations (or federal thrifts) and provides sustained supervision of their operations. The agency issues rules, legal interpretations, and corporate decisions concerning banking, investments, community development activities, and other aspects of their operations.
National bank and federal thrift examiners supervise domestic and international activities of these institutions and perform corporate analyses. Examiners analyze loan and investment portfolios, funds management, capital, earnings, liquidity, and sensitivity to market risk for all national banks and federal thrifts, and compliance with consumer banking laws for national banks and federal thrifts with less than $10 billion in assets. They review internal controls, internal and external audits, and compliance with the law. They also evaluate the management's ability to identify and control risk.
In regulating national banks and federal savings associations, the OCC has the power to—
- Examine the banks and thrifts.
- Approve or deny applications for new charters, branches, capital, or other changes in corporate or banking structure.
- Take supervisory actions against institutions that do not comply with laws and regulations or that otherwise engage in unsound banking practices. The agency can remove officers and directors, negotiate agreements to change banking practices, and issue cease-and-desist orders as well as civil money penalties.
- Issue rules and regulations governing bank investments, lending, and other practices.
The OCC's Objectives
The OCC's activities are predicated on four objectives that support its mission to ensure a stable and competitive system of national banks and federal savings associations:
- To ensure the safety and soundness of the national system banks and savings associations.
- To foster competition by allowing banks and thrifts to offer new products and services.
- To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of OCC supervision, including reducing regulatory burden.
- To ensure fair and equal access to financial services for all Americans.
In 1861, Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase recommended the establishment of a system of federally chartered national banks, each of which would have the power to issue standardized national banknotes based on United States bonds held by the bank. In the National Currency Act of 1863, the administration of the new national banking system was vested in the newly created OCC and its chief administrator, the Comptroller of the Currency.
The law was completely rewritten and reenacted as the National Bank Act. That act authorized the Comptroller of the Currency to hire a staff of national bank examiners to supervise and periodically examine national banks. The act also gave the Comptroller the authority to regulate lending and investment activities of national banks.
One of the reasons Congress created a banking system that issued national currency was to finance the Civil War. Although national banks no longer issue currency, they continue to play a prominent role in the nation's economic life.
On July 21, 2011, the responsibility for supervising federal savings associations transferred from the Office of Thrift Supervision to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency as a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Federal savings associations, or federal thrifts, have roots dating back to 1831, when townspeople in Frankford, Pennsylvania, agreed to pool their money to purchase their homes. The result was the Oxford Provident Building Association. Thrifts continue to serve the shelter and deposit needs of millions of Americans today.
The OCC regulates and supervises about 2,000 national banks and federal savings associations as well as 50 federal branches of foreign banks in the United States. These institutions account for nearly two-thirds of the total assets of all U.S. commercial banks (as of June 30, 2011).
The OCC does not receive any appropriations from Congress. Its operations are funded primarily by assessments on national banks and federal savings associations. National banks and federal thrifts pay for their examinations, and they pay the OCC for processing their corporate applications. The OCC also receives investment income, primarily from U.S. Treasury securities.
The FDIC insures the deposits in all national banks and federal savings associations. The Standard Maximum Deposit Insurance Amount is $250,000 per depositor at each FDIC-insured institution, including certain requirement accounts. Individuals may qualify for more than $250,000 in coverage at one insured bank or savings association if you own deposit accounts in different ownership categories. The most common account ownership categories for individual and family deposits are single accounts, joint accounts, revocable trust accounts and certain retirement accounts. For more, visit the FDIC.
Information About the OCC and Banking
You can learn more about what the OCC does (as well as what national banks and federal savings associations are doing) by consulting the OCC's Web site (http://www.occ.gov). It contains the OCC's latest news releases, issuances, employment information, and publications.
By law, the OCC is prohibited from releasing information from its bank safety and soundness examinations to the public. However, national banks and federal savings associations submit regular reports on their condition and income to the FDIC. Call reports contain publicly available financial information about the bank. The FDIC makes these reports available on the Web (http://www.fdic.gov/bank/index.html).
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