2008 Bank Highlights> > >
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
In September, the Audit Department hosted "Best Practices and International Standards," a five-day workshop that brought together internal audit professionals from 10 Eastern European countries and the United States to discuss practical approaches to internal audits of central banks and financial sector regulatory authorities. The program was a joint undertaking of the Philadelphia Fed and the Partners for Financial Stability program, a public-private partnership of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the East-West Management Institute, a New York-based nonprofit organization.
During the fourth quarter of 2008, the currency counting division began installing the first of eight new high-speed currency-processing machines. The units include both software and hardware updates with many technological advances for throughput and efficiency. Each upgrade will require rigorous testing and significant retraining of staff and supervisors. The upgrade project will continue throughout 2009. Also in the fall of 2008, Cash hosted a work group that is revising the custody control procedures and standards for the Federal Reserve System.
In March, the Community Affairs Department hosted its third biennial conference on "Reinventing Older Communities," attended by more than 500 people from 29 states. During the year, it also supported the Federal Reserve System's Homeownership and Mortgage Initiative to help communities respond to mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures. In addition, Community Affairs staff continued efforts to broaden economic and financial education by reaching more than 500 teachers through the department's various programs.
Philadelphia's ERM officer provided System leadership by co-chairing the International Operational Risk Working Group conference and led presentations on key risk indicators and enterprise risk management. The ERM department officer also participated in a Federal Reserve System panel discussion on fraud. ERM led the effort to move the Bank's District relocation facility (DRF) to New Jersey. The new DRF opened in October.
The Facilities Management Department oversaw the start of construction for the Bank's off-site screening facility. The new building on 7th Street in Philadelphia will be used for screening general delivery trucks, check courier vehicles, and armored carriers before the vehicles proceed to the main Bank building. Also, the Facilities Management staff was instrumental in getting the Bank's new District relocation facility (DRF) in New Jersey up and running.
Staff in FMS chaired several System groups, including the COSO Coordinators Group, the Cost Accounting Group, the Enterprise Risk Management Group, and the Government Entity Accounting Reporting System Management Steering Group. FMS also acted as trustee chair for the Accounting Professional Education Program. In her role as chair of the Enterprise Risk Management Group, the Bank's chief financial officer provided leadership on continuing efforts to identify, communicate, and mitigate risks, with an increased focus on cross-System interdependencies.
In 2008, Financial Statistics staff continued to provide superior analysis of incoming data and provided important information to policymakers as the Federal Reserve responded to credit market disruptions. The staff made important contributions to the Federal Reserve System's Statistics and Reserves Technology Modernization Project, management and enhancement of existing technology applications, and System-level training.
HR participated in WorkReady Philadelphia, a broad-based partnership dedicated to building the region's future workforce, by providing summer internships in various departments throughout the Bank. The ePEP (electronic Professional Education Program) group was involved in developing the Partnership for Progress program, which includes a website for minority-owned and de novo banking institutions. Work continues on development of the Bank's multifaceted talent management program. The Philadelphia Fed is playing a significant role in Human Resources at the Federal Reserve System level: The Bank's president chairs the Committee on Investment Performance, and its first vice president chairs the System's Committee on Plan Administration, which administers the retirement and thrift plans.
IT Services managed scores of internal Bank projects, supporting most business lines, and provided significant support to the Federal Reserve System and the Treasury. Major IT leadership assignments included enhancements to collateral management and Treasury check processing systems, software quality assurance services, and a reworking of the architecture of the Federal Reserve's network infrastructure. The Bank's Groupware Leadership Center has specific responsibility for the Federal Reserve's collaboration suite of technologies, including e-mail and instant messaging, the calendar function, web conferencing, unified messaging, team workplace sites, community services, and enterprise content management. ITS also supports the Bank's video conferencing network, an enterprise-wide service for all Federal Reserve offices. A new video conferencing technology called telepresence was introduced in 2008 to provide very high-quality communications among key Federal Reserve leaders.
Law Enforcement, in conjunction with Facilities Management and other departments, helped in the design and build-out of the District relocation facility (DRF) in New Jersey, which opened in October. The department also consulted on the build-out and integration of the security systems and operation plans for the offsite screening facility being built on 7th Street in Philadelphia. Law Enforcement staff also planned an upgrade to the Bank's security system, including a complete renovation of the Law Enforcement control center.
The Bank's general counsel continues to chair the System's Subcommittee of Ethics Officers, which provides information, guidance, and support to the ethics programs of all the Reserve Banks. He also arranged for ethics training for all Bank departments through online or classroom training. A Legal Department officer continues to provide legal support to Bank management regarding construction of the off-site screening facility and to the System's Groupware Leadership Center. Another Legal Department officer continues to chair the System work group reviewing legal issues related to verifying the identity of those seeking physical or electronic access to federal government sites; that officer also serves as the legal liaison to the System's Workers' Compensation Coalition.
The Payment Cards Center coordinated the activities of various Bank departments related to a broader Program in Consumer Credit and Payments. This included co-sponsoring workshops related to the program and developing a communications plan to link more than 40 Bank professionals who participate in the program. The center also engaged in collaborative initiatives and events with industry trade groups, including working with the Electronic Funds Transfer Association to host a major conference on payment card fraud. The center also published discussion papers, and the center's visiting scholars contributed papers to the Research Department's Working Paper series.
The department completed the redesign of the Bank's external website, www.philadelphiafed.org, which now has improved navigation and new features. Department staff also worked with Bank and System colleagues to produce Partnership for Progress, a new website designed to enhance the ability of minority-owned and de novo financial institutions to thrive in a competitive banking environment. The department's media team worked with the Bank's Community Affairs Department and the Philadelphia Daily News to produce the "Foreclosure Survival Guide." Published as an insert to the paper, the guide was also distributed to agencies helping consumers deal with foreclosures. The media team also hosted a workshop for Third District reporters to give them a perspective on the financial crisis.
The Research Department provided extensive support to the Bank's president as he dealt with policy issues surrounding the changing conditions in financial markets and the economy. The department opened the Real-Time Data Research Center, a source of knowledge and expertise about real-time macroeconomic data, surveys of macroeconomic forecasts, and macroeconomic modeling. The Research Department's regional economic staff provided technical assistance to the city of Philadelphia's Budget Office and the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) on city budget issues. The department also sponsored several workshops and meetings last year that covered such topics as international trade, macroeconomics and monetary economics, and intellectual property in financial services.
Philadelphia's Retail Payments Department successfully consolidated check-processing operations from the Utica, N.Y., and Windsor Locks, Conn., offices in 2008. The department implemented significant workflow changes to align operations with the increasing number of electronic check deposits and the resulting increased printing of substitute checks, which required the installation of additional high-speed printers. The Customer Relations staff worked with financial institutions to implement electronic presentment of checks (FedReceipt). At the end of 2008, almost 90 percent of the check deposits and almost 67 percent of the presentments were made electronically. In November, the Federal Reserve System announced further consolidation of check-processing operations, with Philadelphia's check operation scheduled to be moved to Cleveland by late 2009. Philadelphia also enhanced the application software needed to handle the processing of peak volumes of government checks from the early 2008 economic stimulus program.
In July 2008, the department's retail risk officer led a group of SRC staff members in conducting a week-long math camp for more than 40 school children, grades 5 to 12 in Wilmington, Del. The participants showed improvement in their math skills through testing before and after the camp. The department made significant System contributions to monitoring retail credit markets; these markets are receiving heightened attention as credit conditions deteriorate. Philadelphia staff briefed the Board of Governors quarterly on the state of the credit card markets and prepared a quarterly profile of leading credit card issuers. Philadelphia staff continue to provide the Board of Governors and other Reserve Banks with expertise on retail credit market issues.
In 2007, the U.S. Treasury selected Philadelphia to lead the development of its Collateral Management and Monitoring System. Last year, department staff defined high-level business requirements, developed high-level operational requirements, began to define user requirements, and worked with the Treasury's Financial Management Service Bureau to draft documentation for project governance. The department also effectively managed the Federal Reserve System's Collateral Management System and introduced several major system enhancements. (See Tracking $5 Trillion in Assets.)