Financial Update (April-June 1998)

Atlanta and Cleveland Feds Team to
Run System's Retail Payments Office

T he Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and Cleveland recently assumed joint responsibility for the Federal Reserve System's Retail Payments Office (RPO). The RPO is responsible for overseeing the System's check and automated clearinghouse (ACH) services nationwide and for working with the financial services industry to improve the long-run efficiency and effectiveness of the retail payments system.

The Atlanta Fed will manage the Federal Reserve System's ACH function as well as other aspects of the check system, such as electronic check presentment initiatives. The Cleveland Fed assumes responsibility for check operations, automation issues and new check product development.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston previously managed the System's RPO until it assumed additional responsibilities at the beginning of 1998 for the System's Financial Services Policy Committee, which coordinates all of the Fed's payment areas on a nationwide basis.

The Atlanta and Cleveland Partnership

In addition to his current responsibilities, Patrick K. Barron, first vice president and chief operating officer of the Atlanta Fed, will serve as the System's product director. Commenting on the Atlanta and Cleveland Fed's new partnership, Barron said, "We want to build on the work of the Boston Fed and continue to foster the movement of the payments system from paper to electronics, particularly with respect to the many recommendations of the Committee on the Federal Reserve in the Payments Mechanism." In 1997 this committee, led by Fed Vice Chair Alice M. Rivlin, held 52 regional forums with financial institutions, service providers and trade groups to discuss and make recommendations on the Fed's role in the payments system.

Barron also noted the need to work to improve the Fed's internal operating structure, to be more responsive to customers' needs for products and services and to safely guide the System's retail payments services through the critical century date changeover.

Personnel Prepare to Lead New Office

Atlanta Fed Senior Vice President Richard R. Oliver will serve as product manager of the RPO. Oliver previously served as the Fed's electronic funds transfer manager from 1989 to 1993.

Frederick R. Herr, senior vice president at the Atlanta Fed, will oversee the RPO's check product development function. Sandra Pianalto, first vice president at the Cleveland Fed, will oversee strategic planning and check processing software management. Pianalto, who recently coordinated the activities of the Rivlin Committee, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership approach. "By combining some of the check operations and product development expertise we have here in Cleveland with the longstanding check and ACH experience in Atlanta, we think that we can meet the many challenges of the retail area and serve the payments system well."

Additionally, Adrienne Wells, vice president, and Vicki Anderson, assistant vice president, both based in Atlanta, will be responsible for the Retail Payments Office's ACH efforts. Melinda Rushing, assistant vice president in Atlanta, will assume responsibility for strategic and financial planning. Vice Presidents Robert Price and Terry Roth will provide leadership in check functions from the Cleveland Fed. Dexter Holt, assistant vice president at the Boston Fed, will maintain responsibility for check image-related products. Al Martin, assistant general counsel in Atlanta, will provide legal support.

Approximately 20 people will work in the RPO at the Atlanta Fed, while approximately five people will work in the Cleveland Fed's office. Final transition of the RPO from Boston to the Atlanta and Cleveland Reserve Banks is anticipated to be largely complete by mid year.

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