Ombuds

Who is the Ombuds?

Margie Shanks, Deputy Secretary of the Board of Governors, currently serves as the Federal Reserve System's Ombuds. She is assisted by Jean Whyte, the System’s Associate Ombuds, and Amy Koontz and Dania Palosky, the System’s Assistant Ombuds.

When to contact us:

  • Anytime you need assistance resolving an issue related to the Federal Reserve System's regulatory activities
  • To discuss an issue confidentially
  • If you have questions regarding Federal Reserve System regulatory processes or procedures
  • If you believe that your institution has been subjected to retaliatory conduct by a member of Federal Reserve System staff

In 1995, the Board of Governors established the position of Ombuds to facilitate the fair and timely resolution of complaints related to the Federal Reserve System's regulatory activities. The Ombuds serves as an independent, confidential resource for individuals and institutions that are affected by the Federal Reserve System's regulatory and supervisory actions.

See the Board's policy statement concerning the Ombuds function for more information.

 
How to contact us

The Ombuds operates secure e-mail and dedicated telephone and fax lines.

E-Mail: [email protected]

Phone: 1-800-337-0429

Fax: 1-202-530-6208

Mail
Office of the Ombuds
Federal Reserve Board
20th & C Streets, NW, Mail Stop 28
Washington, D.C. 20551

 
Role of the Ombuds

What does the Ombuds do?

  • Facilitate the resolution of questions and complaints related to the Federal Reserve System's regulatory activities
  • Ensure that complaints about Board or Reserve Bank actions are addressed in a fair and timely manner
  • Report to the Board on issues that are likely to have a significant impact on the System that arise from the Ombuds' review of complaints
  • Receive, review, and decide complaints that a member of Federal Reserve System staff acted in a retaliatory manner against a supervised institution
  • Advise institutions regarding formal processes for resolving disputes, including procedures for appealing material supervisory determinations

What does the Ombuds not do?

  • Make decisions, except with respect to allegations of retaliatory conduct
  • Take sides; rather, the Ombuds maintains an independent and neutral position
  • Address enforcement matters or matters involved in litigation
  • Delay regulatory, legal, or other Federal Reserve actions or deadlines
  • Serve as a formal office of legal notice for the Federal Reserve
  • Handle complaints concerning internal Board functions, such as personnel or procurement

What is retaliation?

  • Retaliation is defined as any action or decision by Reserve Bank or Board staff that causes a supervised institution or its employees (“supervised persons”) to be treated differently or more harshly than other similarly situated institutions because the supervised person attempted to resolve a complaint by filing an appeal of a material supervisory determination or utilized any other Board mechanisms for resolving complaints.
  • Retaliation includes, but is not limited to, delaying or denying action that might benefit a supervised person without a sound supervisory reason or subjecting a supervised institution to heightened examination standards without a sound supervisory reason.

How can a supervised person submit a claim of retaliation?

  • A supervised person may submit a claim of retaliation with the Board's Ombuds by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 1-800-337-0429.
  • When submitting a claim, the supervised person should provide detailed information regarding:
    • The supervised person’s attempt to resolve a complaint by filing an appeal or utilizing another Board mechanism for resolving a complaint, including the date of the attempt and the individuals involved;
    • The relevant action or decision by Reserve Bank or Board staff in which the supervised person believes that they were treated differently or more harshly than other similarly situated institutions or persons, including the date of the action or decision; and
    • Any information that demonstrates or supports a causal connection between the supervised person’s attempt to resolve a complaint and the relevant action or decision by Reserve Bank or Board staff.
  • The supervised person should also submit any documentation that supports the claim of retaliation.
 
Ombuds Practices

Independence
The Ombuds operates independently of the Federal Reserve System's supervisory and regulatory processes.

Confidentiality
The Ombuds has established safeguards to protect confidentiality. Except in unusual circumstances, the Ombuds will not disclose information or material provided by a complainant, including identity, unless expressly authorized by the complainant in order to assist in resolving an issue.

Fairness and Integrity
The Board of Governors has a strict anti-retaliation policy. The Ombuds is responsible for receiving, reviewing, and deciding any complaints that a member of Federal Reserve System staff acted in a retaliatory manner against a supervised institution.

 
Other Resources

Consumer questions and complaints:
Independent of the Ombuds function, the Federal Reserve System maintains a consumer help program to assist individuals who are experiencing issues with their financial institutions.

Institutions supervised by other regulators:
The Federal Reserve System regulates state member banks, bank holding companies, and some other types of financial institutions. The other financial regulatory agencies also have Ombuds programs.

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Last Update: May 16, 2022