(Adds comments from Lew, Woodall, Piwowar and Garrett)
By Sarah N. Lynch and Emily Stephenson
WASHINGTON May 7 The U.S. financial risk
council adopted new transparency measures on Wednesday, after
critics raised concerns the group was too secretive about its
In a unanimous vote, the Financial Stability Oversight
Council agreed to give the public seven days' notice about
upcoming meetings and agenda items. It also said it would start
publishing "read-outs" from closed-door sessions.
"The council is committed to working in an open manner,"
said Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who chairs FSOC.
The regulatory council was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank
Wall Street reform law to keep an eye out for emerging risks.
It comprises the top U.S. financial regulators, including
the heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the
The group can designate large financial firms as "systemic,"
or so big that their failure would threaten the financial
system. That tag imposes tougher regulations.
Since the panel handles sensitive financial data, it is
exempt from rules requiring government agencies to give notice
of upcoming meetings.
The council does publish an annual report about its actions
and seeks public comments on new rules. Its current policy, in
place since 2010, called for open meetings whenever possible.
But members of Congress, such as New Jersey Republican
Representative Scott Garrett, and several SEC commissioners
have complained they are not permitted to attend closed-door
sessions or participate in the policy-making process.
Members of FSOC, such as SEC Chair Mary Jo White, routinely
participate in meetings. Staffers from all of the FSOC-member
regulators who are tapped as "deputies" also meet separately.
The council's members determine who from their agencies and
outside may attend closed meetings. Last month, Garrett
introduced legislation that would allow certain lawmakers and
other regulators who are not FSOC members to attend.
At an event on Tuesday, Garrett railed against the group,
which is considering whether to dub large asset managers like
Blackrock and Fidelity as "systemic."
He said the new transparency measures were "better late than
never" but that he expected they would be "merely window
The FSOC's policy changes on Wednesday mirror some
recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office in
two previous reports. The office, which serves as a government
watchdog, suggested keeping more detailed records on closed
meetings and boosting communication with the public.
Still, the changes are not likely to satisfy some critics.
SEC Republican Commissioner Michael Piwowar said on
Wednesday he was rejected again when he asked permission to
attend the closed-door meeting held earlier in the day, and that
he would keep pressing for access.
"The banking regulators exert disproportionate influence on
FSOC activities, and a strong voice for transparent, efficient,
and vibrant capital markets is needed to counterbalance the
Federal Reserve's non-member attendees," he said.
Roy Woodall, the FSOC's independent member and insurance
expert, said Wednesday he was "sympathetic" to fellow regulators
who "feel they have been excluded."
"I remain interested in working with my colleagues to
broaden our intra-government transparency," he said.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Emily Stephenson; Editing by
Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney)