"Know Before You Owe"

This week, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched an initiative to engage every American in the design of a simpler mortgage disclosure form. By visiting Know Before You Owe, your voice will be heard on what information lenders and brokers should share when any American applies for a mortgage. It is the latest “startup” of the Obama Administration and embodies three important principles:

  1. A More Open, Participatory Government. On his first full day in office, President Obama signed a memorandum on transparency and open government, ushering in a new era in which the gap between the American people and their government would close. He called for a more participatory government to tap into the expertise of the American people when addressing the biggest challenges facing the country. “Know Before You Owe” offers a simple gaming dynamic to generate data on what works and what doesn’t as they work to improve the disclosure forms in the coming months.
  2. Customer Service at Private Sector Standards. Last month, President Obama issued an Executive Order calling on Federal agencies to streamline service delivery and improve customer service. Noting the dramatic advances in customer service by other sectors, it challenges federal agencies to improve the customer service experience, especially through the effective utilization of technology and innovation. As a brand new agency, CFPB is demonstrating it can put the interests of consumers first.
  3. A “Lean Government Startup” Culture. I’ve spent a good deal of time recently with Eric Ries, a leader in a movement to define a set of principles to guide successful new companies. He’s written about the possibility of translating the “Lean Startup” concept into the government. By establishing a clearly defined problem, recruiting a small, nimble team of innovators and financial experts to design an innovative product, and then rapidly learning from public feedback, the CFPB team might be the right case study to demonstrate the merits of such an approach.

Congratulations to the CFPB team on an impressive launch. It’s now up to you to visit Know Before You Owe and let your government know how to design a mortgage disclosure form that empowers you.

Aneesh Chopra is U.S. Chief Technology Officer

Your Federal Tax Receipt