Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)
Thu Dec 4 02:26:21 2003
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (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. It also supervises the federal branches and
agencies of foreign banks. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the OCC has six
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 five-year term. The
Comptroller also serves as a director of the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation (FDIC) and a director of the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation.
The OCC’s nationwide staff of examiners conducts on-site reviews of national
banks and provides sustained supervision of bank operations. The agency issues
rules, legal interpretations, and corporate decisions concerning banking, bank
investments, bank community development activities, and other aspects of bank
National bank examiners supervise domestic and international activities of
national banks and perform corporate analyses. Examiners analyze a bank’s loan
and investment portfolios, funds management, capital, earnings, liquidity,
sensitivity to market risk, and compliance with consumer banking laws, including
the Community Reinvestment Act. They review the bank’s internal controls,
internal and external audit, and compliance with law. They also evaluate bank
management’s ability to identify and control risk.
In regulating national banks, the OCC has the power to:
* Examine the banks.
* Approve or deny applications for new charters, branches, capital, or other
changes in corporate or banking structure.
* Take supervisory actions against banks 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
The OCC’s Objectives
The OCC’s activities are predicated on four objectives that support the OCC’s
mission to ensure a stable and competitive national banking system. The four
* To ensure the safety and soundness of the national banking system.
* To foster competition by allowing banks 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 bank notes 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 re-enacted 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 authority to regulate lending and investment activities of
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.
Today, the OCC regulates and supervises more than 2,200 national banks and 56
federal branches of foreign banks in the U.S., accounting for more than 55
percent of the total assets of all U.S. commercial banks.
The OCC does not receive any appropriations from Congress. Instead, its
operations are funded primarily by assessments on national banks. National banks
pay for their examinations, and they pay for the OCC’s processing of their
corporate applications. The OCC also receives revenue from its investment
income, primarily from U.S. Treasury securities.
The FDIC insures the deposits in all national banks. An individual is limited to
$100,000 in insurance coverage at each bank (including all branches).
Information about the OCC and Banking
You can learn more about what the OCC does (as well as what national banks are
doing) by consulting the OCC’s Web site (http://www.occ.treas.gov).
It contains the OCC’s latest news releases, banking issuances, employment
information, and publications. The Web site also has much more information,
including the Weekly Bulletin of national banks’ corporate applications,
Community Reinvestment Act evaluations, the OCC’s organizational directory, and
forms and software.
By law, the OCC is prohibited from releasing information from its bank safety
and soundness examinations to the public. National banks must, however, submit a
Report of Condition and Income (call report) four times a year to the FDIC. Call
reports contain publicly available financial information about the bank. The
FDIC makes these reports available upon request by phone (202-898-6570) and on
the Web (http://www.fdic.gov/bank/index.html).
If you have a complaint about a national bank and cannot resolve it with the
institution, contact the OCC Customer Assistance Group at 1-800-613-6743 or
For more information about the OCC, contact:
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Washington, DC 20219
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