Informing the public about the Federal Reserve
Is the Federal Reserve accountable to anyone?
The Federal Reserve is accountable to the public and the U.S. Congress. The Fed has long viewed transparency as a fundamental principle of central banking that supports accountability. In the area of monetary policy, the Federal Reserve reports twice annually on its plans for monetary policy. In addition, the Chairman and other Federal Reserve officials often testify before the Congress.
To further foster transparency and accountability in monetary policy, the Federal Open Market Committee publishes a statement immediately following every FOMC meeting that describes the Committee's views regarding the economic outlook, and provides a rationale for its policy decision. Full minutes for each meeting are published three weeks after each FOMC meeting. Full verbatim transcripts of the FOMC meetings are made available with a five-year lag. In 2011, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke began holding four press conferences a year, after selected meetings, to discuss the monetary policy outlook.
The Federal Reserve is transparent and accountable in its other functions as well. The Board of Governors prepares an Annual Report summarizing activities of the Board and all Reserve Banks; the annual report is delivered to the Congress. To ensure financial accountability, the financial statements of the Federal Reserve Banks and the Board of Governors are audited annually by an independent outside auditor. In addition, the Government Accountability Office, as well as the Board's Office of Inspector General, frequently audit many Federal Reserve activities. Weekly, the Board of Governors publishes the Federal Reserve's balance sheet. During the recent financial crisis, the Federal Reserve provided information about its lending programs on its public website and in a special monthly report to Congress.