Fed regional banks to adopt uniform policy for public information requests

An eagle tops the U.S. Federal Reserve building's facade in Washington
An eagle tops the U.S. Federal Reserve building's facade in Washington, July 31, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

March 24 (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve's 12 regional banks have agreed to adopt a common policy for handling public requests for information and will have it in place by the end of this year, the New York Fed said in a statement on Friday.

"The Federal Reserve Banks are committed to transparency and accountability and each Reserve Bank has existing procedures for providing information to the public," the statement said. "In the interest of further strengthening transparency and accountability, the 12 Reserve Banks have agreed to adopt a common policy for public requests for information and expect to implement this policy by the end of this year."

Unlike the Fed's Board of Governors in Washington, which is a government agency, the Fed's regional banks are not subject to federal rules for public information disclosures. Each bank has its own policy for doing so, with some publicly posting theirs.

The new joint policy, which has been under discussion for months and is still being formulated, will ensure requests for documents, records and other information are treated the same way by each of the U.S. central bank's regional banks.

They have come under fire in recent years from U.S. lawmakers who sometimes say their requests to obtain documents and records on various issues do not get an adequate response.

Scrutiny of the Fed banks may intensify this year after the failures of Silicon Valley Bank (SIVB.O) touched off turmoil in the banking sector despite escalating efforts at oversight from the San Francisco Fed's bank examiners.

Senator Tim Scott, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee and a possible 2024 presidential candidate, on Thursday demanded supervisory records and documents from San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly and Fed Chair Jerome Powell, including many which are typically confidential and never made public.

The Fed is undertaking its own review of the SVB failure and has said the process will be thorough and transparent.

Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Paul Simao

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