WASHINGTON, July 21 (Reuters) - The U.S. regulator of credit unions will soon close some regional and agency offices and reorganize others, as it works to cut costs and respond to changes in the industry, according to an announcement released on Friday.
"Months of very hard work by agency staff have produced a solid, commonsense plan that will help the agency respond to a new economic environment," said Rick Metsger, a board member of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), which oversees the country's nearly 6,000 credit unions.
Since at least 2011 the number of credit unions, non-profit financial cooperatives that are owned and controlled by members, has consistently shrunk each year. At the same time, the unions' membership, asset levels, and loans have grown, data from the Credit Union National Association, a trade group, showed.
The result is a more concentrated system dominated by fewer, but larger, institutions than in the past.
Like banks, the unions take deposits and provide loans.
The regulator, currently functioning with only two board members, must position itself "to meet the changing demands" while "promoting efficiency and effectiveness," NCUA Chairman Mark McWatters said in a statement.
The NCUA plans to close its Albany, New York, and Atlanta, Georgia office, and cancel four of its five leased facilities.
It will also "eliminate agency offices with overlapping functions and improve functions such as examination reporting, records management, and procurement," according to the announcement, as it banks on a reduction in workers by attrition.
The plan also foresees restructuring the examination and insurance office into specialized working groups. Full details, along with projected cost savings, will be posted in the fall.
Earlier this week, the agency's chief financial officer said in a report to the board it was on track to cut spending by $5.8 million this year, with a little more than half of those savings coming from reductions in compensations, a hiring freeze, and employee turnover and attrition.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; editing by Diane Craft)