Up to the time of this writing (August 30, 1922), twenty-live banks, located in different sections of the country, had been granted permission to open additional offices.
Proposed Abolition of the Comptroller's Office
During the last year or two of the administration of Mr. Williams a strong movement developed in favor of the abolition of the office of Comptroller of the Currency by merging the bureau with the Federal Reserve Board and transferring the functions, powers and duties of the Comptroller to that board.
Bills were introduced in both houses of Congress designed to effect this consolidation. These bills, however, might have been more appropriately designated as "Bills to abolish John Skelton Williams," as the demand for such legislation seemed to come mainly, if not wholly, from bankers to whom Mr. Williams was personally obnoxious, from some of the members of the Federal Reserve Board who, unfortunately, had had disagreements or differences with him in regard to the policies of the board, or to his policies of administration of the Comptroller's office, and from the twelve Federal Reserve Banks whose officers were exceedingly desirous of supplanting the Comptroller of the Currency in the supervision of all the national banks and of absorbing his duties. Demands for the consolidation of the two offices, however, apparently subsided immediately following the retirement of Mr. Williams from office on March 2, and the hearings on the bills before Congress, which had been deferred from time to time by the respective committees of the two houses which had them under consideration, were indefinitely postponed, thus indicating that the movement for consolidation of the two bureaus was due more to dissatisfaction with Mr. Williams personally and his policies of administration of the Comptroller's office than to a sincere desire for the abolition of the office and the transfer of its manifold duties and responsibilities to the Federal Reserve Board. This conclusion was further exemplified by the fact that many bankers throughout the country and in Congress who had at first strongly favored the movement during Mr. Williams' incumbency of the office of Comptroller subsequently became either indifferent or strongly opposed to it after his retirement from office.
It was contended by those who favored a merger, and the same impression seemed to prevail among Congressmen generally, that there was more or less duplication of work in the operation of the two offices independently or separately, which could be avoided and the business more economically and efficiently conducted if they were consolidated in one bureau under one control. But in this they were in error. There is not now and never has been any duplication of the work of the Federal Reserve Board by the office of the Comptroller of the Currency, nor of the Comptroller's office by the Federal Reserve Board. The business of each bureau is wholly distinct and separate from the other, but the Comptroller's office is and has been from the beginning much more economically administered than the office of the Federal Reserve Board, as may be clearly demonstrated by comparison of expenses and volume of work performed.
The Comptroller of the Currency in the supervision of the national banks makes not less than five calls each year upon the banks for a report of their condition. These reports of condition are carefully examined and abstracted by experienced clerks of the Comptroller's office and these reports and abstracts are as available at all times to the proper officials of the Federal Reserve Board as if the board itself called on the banks for the reports and its own clerks abstracted them.
The national bank examiners employed by the Comptroller of the Currency are required to make not less than two examinations of every national bank each year. These reports are on file in the Comptroller's office and are accessible to the proper officers of the Federal Reserve Board at any time.
It will, therefore, readily be seen that there is and has been no duplication of this work and no necessity for any duplication.
All the correspondence with national banks and with national bank examiners growing out of the conditions shown by these reports is conducted by the Comptroller's office force and such correspondence is also as readily accessible to the officials of the Federal Reserve Board as if conducted by that office.
The Comptroller of the Currency is charged by law with the duty of issuing Federal Reserve notes and Federal Reserve Bank notes and the Federal Reserve Issue Division is a part of the Comptroller's office and is located in that bureau. There is, therefore, no duplication of this work.
The Federal Reserve Board is required to call upon the State banks and trust companies which are members of the Federal Reserve System for reports of condition not less than three times each year. The Comptroller of the Currency notifies the Federal Reserve Board in advance when he contemplates making a call upon the national banks for a report of their condition, and the Federal Reserve Board makes a call on the State member banks for a report for the same date, but not more than three times a year. The Federal Reserve Board makes its calls through the Federal Reserve Banks and the State member banks make their reports in duplicate direct to the Federal Reserve Bank of their respective districts. The Federal Reserve Banks retain one copy of the report and forward the other to the Federal Reserve Board at Washington.
These reports are abstracted by the statistical division of the Federal Reserve Board the same as the reports of national banks are abstracted by the statistical division of the Comptroller's office. There is, therefore, no duplication of this work.
The Federal Reserve Banks make weekly or daily reports to the Federal Reserve Board as may be required by the board.