Financial Regulation

CFPB’s Chief Operating Officer Is Leaving, in First High-Level Mulvaney-Era Departure

Sartaj Alag told staffers he'll leave on April 18, after almost five years as the bureau's COO

Rob Kunzig/Morning Consult photo
  • Alag served in the agency during its formative years.

  • He’s the first senior-level CFPB official to depart since Mick Mulvaney became acting director in November 2017.

Sartaj Alag, who has served as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s chief operating officer since 2013 and was a senior-level official from the agency’s earliest days, told staffers he plans to leave the bureau next month, according to an internal memo viewed by Morning Consult.

Alag, who informed CFPB staffers Thursday that his last day at the agency will be April 18, is considered the first senior-level CFPB official to depart since Mick Mulvaney became acting director in November 2017. A CFPB spokesperson confirmed Alag’s internal announcement but declined to provide further details about his departure or his replacement.

The move comes nearly four months after Mulvaney — who also serves as the Office of Management and Budget director — took on additional duties as acting director of the CFPB, which was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act following the 2008 financial crisis.

A federal district court judge has allowed Mulvaney to serve as the bureau’s director while a legal challenge from Leandra English, the deputy director, remains pending before the court. English, who had served as the bureau’s chief of staff under then-Director Richard Cordray, was named deputy director and first in line to succeed Cordray in one of his last official acts before resigning in November 2017.

Mulvaney has since sought to put in place significant overhauls to the agency, which critics contend is effectively gutting its enforcement power. In February, Mulvaney overhauled the bureau’s strategic plan, asserting that the agency will go “no further” than its statutory mission outlined in Dodd-Frank.

In his message to CFPB staffers seen by Morning Consult, Alag said the responsibility to ensure the bureau “operates at the highest order of efficiency and accountability” now rests on the shoulders of the agency’s staff.

During the CFPB’s formative days in 2011, Alag started and managed the bureau’s Office of Consumer Response, before becoming COO in July 2013. Prior to working at the CFPB, Alag was the president of Capital One Financial Corp.’s subsidiary in Canada.

The Office of Consumer Response, now headed by CFPB Assistant Director Christopher Johnson, is one of the offices within Alag’s division. Other offices include administrative operations; human capital; technology and innovation; the office of the chief financial officer; and the office responsible for CFPB procurement.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who was instrumental in setting up the bureau before winning her seat in 2012, noted in a statement emailed to Morning Consult that Alag’s “vision and leadership” helped the CFPB establish its consumer hotline, which has handled over 1 million complaints.

“He helped build a strong consumer agency that stands up for millions of American families,” Warren said.

This story has been updated to include a response from the CFPB confirming Alag’s departure.