Skip to main content
OCC Flag

An official website of the United States government

OCC Bulletin 2021-8 | February 16, 2021

Role of Supervisory Guidance: Final Rule


Chief Executive Officers of All National Banks, Federal Savings Associations, and Federal Branches and Agencies; Department and Division Heads; All Examining Personnel; and Other Interested Parties


The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has approved a final rule which confirms that supervisory guidance does not create binding legal obligations for the public. The final rule adopts the proposed rule, which was published on November 5, 2020, without substantive change.

The final rule will become effective on March 15, 2021.

Note for Community Banks

This final rule applies to the supervision of all OCC-supervised banks.1


The final rule

  • recognizes well-settled administrative law by reaffirming that supervisory guidance, unlike statutes and regulations, does not have the force and effect of law.
  • explains that supervisory guidance can outline the OCC's supervisory expectations or priorities and articulate the OCC's general views regarding appropriate practices for a given subject area.
  • explains that supervisory criticisms should be specific as to practices, operations, financial conditions, or other matters that could have a negative effect on the bank's safety and soundness, could cause consumer harm, or could cause violations of laws, regulations, final agency orders, or other legally enforceable conditions.
  • reiterates that examiners will not base supervisory criticisms on a "violation" of or "non-compliance" with supervisory guidance.
  • reaffirms that the OCC does not take enforcement actions on the basis of a "violation" of, or "non-compliance" with, supervisory guidance.

Further Information

Please contact Steven V. Key, Associate Deputy Comptroller for Bank Supervision Policy, at (202) 649-6770, or Mitchell Plave, Special Counsel, Chief Counsel's Office, at (202) 649-5490.


Jonathan V. Gould
Senior Deputy Comptroller and Chief Counsel

Related Link

1 "Banks" refers to national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign banking organizations.