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Alphonse Desjardins brings credit unions to North America as the Canadian journalist organizes La Caisse Populaire de Levis (The People's Bank of Levis) in his home in Levis, Quebec. The first deposit was just 10 cents.


St. Mary's Cooperative Credit Association, the first U.S. credit union, opens on April 6, 1909, in Manchester, New Hampshire, with assistance from Alphonse Desjardins.


Massachusetts Bank Commissioner Pierre Jay and wealthy Boston merchant Edward A. Filene join forces to enact the Massachusetts Credit Union Act, the first general statute for establishing credit unions in the United States.

For his efforts, Filene earns the moniker "Father of U.S. Credit Unions."


Filene hires 40-year-old Massachusetts attorney Roy F. Bergengren to energize and expand a fledgling credit union movement.

Bergengren is credited with developing today's credit union system.


Filene and Bergengren organize the Credit Union National Extension Bureau, an association focused on forming new credit unions, enacting state laws to charter credit unions, and promoting the philosophy of credit unions. Between 1921 and 1935, 38 states and the District of Columbia enact credit union laws.

The number of U.S. credit unions reaches 199 in 1921 and grows to 3,000 by 1935.


The stock market crash of 1929 causes a financial crisis that ultimately leads to the Great Depression.

At the height of the Great Depression, personal income, tax revenue, profits, and prices drop significantly, while international trade plunges by more than 50 percent. Unemployment in the U.S. rises to more than 25 percent.


Bergengren meets with U.S. Senator Morris Sheppard of Texas to discuss the need to organize credit unions under federal law. Bergengren believes a U.S. law permitting federal credit unions to organize is imperative.

"A federal credit union law would be a sort of blanket insurance policy for all our state laws, giving us an alternative method of organization," Bergengren writes.


On May 10, the U.S. Senate adopts a bill drafted by Sheppard and Bergengren to allow the chartering of federal credit unions.

Wright Patman, a Congressman from Texas, introduces a bill in the House of Representatives allowing for the creation of credit unions anywhere in the United States.

On June 14, in the final minutes of the 73rd Congress, pressured by Bergengren, Alabama constituents and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, House Banking Committee Chairman Henry Steagall walks onto the House floor at 7:15 p.m. and asks the full House to consider, by unanimous consent, a Senate-approved, House-amended federal credit union bill.

Before the allotted 30-minute debate expires, the House passes the bill with only two dissenting votes. When the bill reaches the Senate floor at 8:30 p.m., Sheppard asks for unanimous consent to pass the federal credit union bill "as amended, unread." No one objects and the bill passes.

President Roosevelt signs the Federal Credit Union Act into law on June 26.

The newly created Federal Credit Union Division is placed in the Farm Credit Administration, the agency responsible for addressing the financial problems facing rural America.

Bergengren compiles a list of leading credit union activists to head the new division. On July 16, he sends a telegram to his first choice, Claude Orchard, an Omaha executive at Armour & Company. Orchard responds immediately and is appointed as director several days later.

As head of the Federal Credit Union Division, Orchard encourages the organization of both federal and state-chartered credit unions.

Orchard leads the Federal Credit Union Division for 19 years, focusing primarily on developing the laws and regulations that govern credit unions.

Morris Sheppard Federal Credit Union in Texarkana, Texas, becomes the first federally charted credit union on October 1.

A Senate report sums up how credit unions fared during the Depression years:

  • “In the 38 states and the District of Columbia (where credit unions existed), there have been no involuntary liquidations.”
  • “Their record for honest management is exceptional.”
  • “They have proved their durability and have served their members uninterruptedly during the worst depression in our history.”

By the end of 1940, there are 3,756 federal credit unions.


Federal supervision of credit unions is transferred to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.


The Federal Credit Union Division is renamed the Bureau of Federal Credit Unions, and is moved from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to the Federal Security Administration.


By 1952, the number of federal credit unions grows to nearly 6,000 with more than 2.8 million members.


J. Dean Gannon becomes director of the Bureau of Federal Credit Unions as it moves to the new Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Over the next 17 years, the Bureau becomes self-sufficient, financed by fees on federal credit unions.


By the end of 1960, there were 9,905 federal credit unions with 6.1 million members and $2.7 billion in assets.


Congress creates the National Credit Union Administration as an independent agency to charter and supervise federal credit unions.

The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund is also formed, insuring share deposits at federally insured credit unions up to $20,000. Until this point, credit unions had operated without federal deposit insurance.

Lieutenant General Herman Nickerson, Jr., becomes the first Administrator of the National Credit Union Administration.

By the end of 1970, there were 12,977 federal credit unions with $8.8 billion in assets and nearly 12 million members.


With the signing of Executive Order 11580 on January 20, President Richard Nixon establishes the NCUA seal. The Executive Order details the symbolism of each aspect of the seal. To learn more about the NCUA seal, go to


Legislation increases insurance coverage on credit union member share deposits to $40,000.

Credit unions are able to provide share draft accounts for the first time.


C. Austin Montgomery is appointed NCUA Administrator.


Lawrence Connell is appointed NCUA Administrator.


A three-member Board replaces the NCUA Administrator as the governing body for the agency after Congress updates the Federal Credit Union Act. Board members are nominated and appointed by the President of the United States, and must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Board terms are set for staggered six-year terms, and not more than two members of the Board shall be members of the same political party. In appointing the Board, the President must designate the Chairman.

The first NCUA Board consists of former NCUA Administrator and newly appointed Chairman Lawrence Connell, Dr. Harold A. Black and Vice Chairman P.A. Mack, Jr.

Congress also creates the Central Liquidity Facility. This facility is similar the Federal Reserve's Discount Window and serves a similar function—the lender of last resort for the credit union system. The Central Liquidity Facility helps ensure greater stability within the credit union system.

Share insurance coverage increases to $100,000 making it equal to the amount of deposit insurance coverage for banks provided by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

For exam and supervision purposes, NCUA begins rating credit unions using a system called the Early Warning System (EWS). EWS assigned credit unions an overall rating of 1 to 4.


After several years of economic decline in various industrial sectors, credit unions associated with these industries begin to fail. In 1980, there were 251 liquidations of credit unions, costing the Share Insurance Fund nearly $78.6 million.

By the end of 1980, there were 17,350 federally insured credit unions that had nearly $70 billion in assets.


More than 7,000 groups join existing credit unions under NCUA's new multiple select-employee group policy. Membership reaches 28.6 million. Credit union savings rise 20.7 percent, the number of loans grows 17.2 percent and assets increase 19.8 percent during the year. The credit union system's total assets surpass $100 billion.

NCUA's Central Liquidity Facility and U.S. Central Credit Union, at the time the nation's largest corporate credit union, sign an agreement nearly quadrupling the Central Liquidity Facility's membership and giving 90 percent of credit unions a permanent source of backup liquidity.

Edgar F. Callahan becomes NCUA Board Chairman. He serves until 1985.


With the Share Insurance Fund experiencing stress, the credit union community calls on Congress to approve recapitalizing the fund.

Legislation grants NCUA emergency merger authority and temporary conservatorship authority.

Elizabeth F. Burkhart is appointed to the NCUA Board. She serves from 1982—1990.


The U.S. Postal Service issues a commemorative stamp recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Federal Credit Union Act.

Administration of the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund is transferred to NCUA from the Department of Health and Human Services. Today, the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund provides grants and loans to low-income credit unions.

Federally insured credit unions submit $850 million or 1 percent of system assets to fully capitalize a new, restructured National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund.


Former U.S. Senator Roger W. Jepsen becomes Chairman of the NCUA Board. He serves as Chairman until 1993.


On January 1, Governor Bruce Sundlun announces the Rhode Island Share Deposit Indemnity Corporation is insolvent and declares a "bank holiday" for 35 state-chartered credit unions and 10 state-chartered banks.

Within a week, NCUA notifies 22 of these state-chartered credit unions that they qualify for federal share insurance, following an intense 42-day effort by 32 NCUA staff members. The event precipitates a flood of insurance applications from privately insured credit unions nationwide. A total of 432 state-chartered credit unions will convert to federal insurance coverage by 1991.

NCUA adopts the CAMEL Rating System (Capital, Asset Quality, Management, Earnings and Liquidity) as its rating system for credit unions.

NCUA introduces the Automated Credit Examination System (ACES) as computers become part the examination process.


David Chatfield becomes an NCUA Board Member. He serves until 1989.


Legislation gives the NCUA Board the ability to exercise its powers as successor, conservator and liquidator of credit unions.

The Asset Liquidation and Management Center (ALMC) is created to deal with problem assets NCUA acquired from both operating and liquidating credit unions.


NCUA closes the Region II and Region V liquidation centers and merges them into ALMC to provide greater consistency and improved efficiencies in administrating policies and procedures relative to the liquidation processes.

By the end of 1990, the credit union system has 12,891 federally insured credit unions, $223 billion in assets and 61 million members.

Robert Swan is appointed as an NCUA Board Member. He serves until 1996.


Shirlee Bowné is appointed to the Board. She serves until 1997.


During Norman E. D'Amours first year as Board Chairman, NCUA adds the Office of Corporate Credit Unions and the Office of Community Development Credit Unions. A former Congressman, D'Amours serves as Chairman until 2000.

NCUA moves into its current headquarters located at 1775 Duke Street in Alexandria, Virginia.


NCUA introduces the Automated Integrated Regulatory Examination System (AIRES). Updated versions of AIRES are still used by federal examiners and state supervisory authorities.


The NCUA Board approves to change the name of ALMC to the Asset Management and Assistance Center (AMAC) to better identify with its increasing role of providing technical services to NCUA.

AMAC broadens its role to include providing consulting services to the NCUA regional offices on such topics as lending analysis, records reconstruction and fraud investigation. AMAC also provides training to both NCUA and state credit union examiners.

Yolanda T. Wheat is appointed to the NCUA Board. She serves until 2001.


Dennis Dollar is appointed to the Board.


Congress moves quickly after NCUA and credit unions struggle for two-and-a-half years under a court order and subsequent U.S. Supreme Court decision that prevents field of membership expansions and severely curtails mergers. The result is H.R. 1151, the Credit Union Membership Access Act.

Within days of House and Senate approval, on August 7, President Bill Clinton signs the Credit Union Membership Access Act into law and with it restores expansion privileges and provides for multiple common-bond credit unions.

The Credit Union Membership Access Act requires NCUA to create a system of "prompt corrective action." This system sets the minimal capital ratios that a credit union must maintain and establishes triggers that limit the activities of a federally insured credit union should it drop below these levels.


By the end of 2000, the credit union system has 10,316 federally insured credit unions, nearly $438 billion in assets and more than 77 million members.

Geoff Bacino is appointed to the NCUA Board.


NCUA implements the risk-based examination scheduling program and approves collection of quarterly 5300 Call Reports to obtain data from credit unions.

Existing NCUA Board Member Dennis Dollar becomes Chairman. He serves as Chairman until 2004.


Debbie Matz is appointed to the NCUA Board. She serves until 2005.

JoAnn M. Johnson is appointed to the Board.


JoAnn M. Johnson becomes NCUA Board Chairman. She serves as Chairman until July 2008.

The Board changes the name of the Office of Credit Union Development to the Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives, reflecting the importance the agency places on helping small, low-income and newly chartered credit unions thrive in an ever-changing and competitive financial services marketplace.


Rodney E. Hood is appointed to the Board, and serves as Vice Chairman from 2005 until August 2009.

Christiane "Gigi" Hyland is appointed to the Board. She serves until 2012.


With turmoil beginning in the nation's financial system, NCUA wins congressional approval to increase the Central Liquidity Facility's lending limit from $1.5 billion to $41.5 billion.

In addition, Congress approves the expanded use of the Central Liquidity Facility for, and allows the creation of, the Credit Union System Investment Program and the Homeowners Affordability Relief Program to help credit unions weather increasing financial stress.

Efforts to stabilize the financial system leads to the temporary increase in the maximum insured amount for share insurance from $100,000 to $250,000. This increase is later made permanent with the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

In September 2008, Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy. Many observers mark this event as the start of the financial crisis of 2008—2009.

Michael E. Fryzel is appointed NCUA Board Chairman. He serves in this role until August 2009.


NCUA effectively guarantees all shares above the federal insurance limit in all corporate credit unions through the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Share Guarantee Program.

NCUA places the two largest corporate credit unions, U.S. Central Federal Credit Union and Western Corporate Federal Credit Union into conservatorship in order to minimize losses on investments, sustain critical liquidity and payment services to consumer credit unions. Both corporates had purchased sizable amounts of faulty mortgage-backed securities.

NCUA successfully works with Congress to create the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund. The Stabilization Fund allows the credit union system to manage the costs of corporate credit losses over several years, rather than in one lump-sum payment. The Stabilization Fund is paid for by assessments on credit unions—not by taxpayer dollars.

NCUA approves changes in the frequency of federal credit union examinations. The new policy requires a substantive on-site contact by NCUA examiners with the goal of completing an exam every calendar year of all federal credit unions.

Debbie Matz becomes Chairman of the NCUA Board. Matz is the only Board Member to serve two non-consecutive terms.

Michael Fryzel continues to serve as an NCUA Board Member.


Congress passes the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Some of the key regulatory changes include:

  • The permanent extension of the maximum amount of share insurance to $250,000.
  • The creation of the Financial Stability Oversight Council and the inclusion of the NCUA Board Chairman as one of ten voting members on the Council.
  • The requirement for NCUA and other financial services regulators to create an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.

NCUA establishes the Office of Consumer Protection. The office has responsibilities for consumer compliance policy, program and rulemaking; fair lending examinations; complaint resolution; and financial literacy programs. It also oversees chartering, charter conversions, field of membership expansions and low-income designations.

NCUA adopts the Corporate System Resolution Plan, a three-part strategy designed to unwind the five corporate credit unions that NCUA placed into conservatorship in 2009 and 2010. The five corporate credit unions represent 70 percent of the corporate system's assets and more than 98 percent of losses within the corporate system.

NCUA successfully launches the NCUA Guaranteed Notes program. This program provides long-term funding for billions of dollars in legacy assets held by the failed corporate credit unions.

NCUA hires national personal finance expert Suze Orman as part of a national public information campaign to inform credit union members and the general public about the safety of credit union share deposits insured by NCUA. During the campaign, more than 190 million Americans learn that federally insured credit unions are a safe place to save.

At the end of 2010, there were 7,339 credit unions with more than $914 billion in assets and nearly 90.5 million members.


In January 2011, NCUA establishes the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion which works to ensure equal opportunities for everyone in NCUA's workforce programs and contracts. The office also works to preserve minority credit unions and to assess the diversity policies and practices of credit unions regulated by NCUA.

NCUA Board Chairman Debbie Matz unveils the Regulatory Modernization Initiative. The initiative ensures that NCUA's rules are in sync with the current marketplace, are clearly written, target practices that have the potential to cause the greatest risk to the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund and are minimally burdensome to credit unions.


NCUA launches, a website that provides consumers of all ages with in-depth personal financial information.


Federally insured credit union assets exceed $1 trillion for the first time. The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund reaches $11.8 billion and is fully capitalized at its 1.30 percent equity ratio.

NCUA becomes the first financial institutions regulator to initiate legal actions against the largest Wall Street firms for their role in selling faulty mortgage-backed securities to the five failed corporate credit unions. By the end of 2012, NCUA recovers more than $170 million.

NCUA launches its financial literacy micro-site, Pocket Cents, which provides information about the benefits of credit unions and the importance of making smart financial decisions.

NCUA develops and implements the National Supervision Policy Manual. The manual is the product of a two-year project to create uniform operations and procedures for supervision throughout the country and improve the agency's ability to operate efficiently across regions.

NCUA shutters Western Bridge Corporate Credit Union.

To streamline the approval process, NCUA notifies more than 1,000 federal credit unions directly of their eligibility for a low-income designation. The designation provides several benefits, including access to supplemental capital, eligibility for loans and grants from the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund, ability to provide unlimited member business loans, and assistance from NCUA's Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives.

By the end of 2012, 690 additional federal credit unions with 7.5 million members and nearly $65.9 billion in assets accept designation a low-income credit union.

NCUA liquidates Central Bridge Corporate Credit Union after migrating services to other providers effectively ending NCUA's efforts of resolving the nation's corporate credit union system. This liquidation was achieved at no cost to taxpayers.


To reduce regulatory burdens, NCUA changes the definition of a small, non-complex credit union to those entities with less than $50 million in assets, up from the prior $10 million in assets threshold. This change results in classifying nearly 68 percent of federally insured credit unions as having a small credit union designation.

The Office of National Examinations and Supervision begins operations. NCUA created this office to better supervise the nation's corporate credit unions and, at the start of 2014, the largest consumer credit unions—those with $10 billion or more in assets.

NCUA obtains more than $1.42 billion in gross recoveries from the U.S. government's historic settlement with JPMorgan Chase for selling faulty mortgage-backed securities to five corporate credit unions that failed in 2008—2010. NCUA also settles with Bank of America for $165 million.

NCUA files suit against 13 international banks alleging violations of federal and state anti-trust laws through their manipulating of interest rates in the London Interbank Offered Rate system, or LIBOR.

Rick Metsger is appointed to the NCUA Board.


Corporate credit unions convert from the Corporate Rating Information System (CRIS) to the CAMEL rating system. The change reduces the number of complexities in supervising the corporate system and the consumer credit union system, streamlines reporting and provides a uniform measure of performance.

The NCUA Board adopts a rule requiring stress testing and capital planning for credit unions with more than $10 billion in assets.

​​​​A Brief History of Credit Unio​ns


For more than 100 years, credit unions have provided financial services to their members in the United States. Credit unions are unique depository institutions created not for profit, but to serve their members as credit cooperatives.

The earliest financial cooperatives date back to the beginning of 19th century in England. A few decades later, credit unions took root in Germany. Organized by Herman Schulze-Delitzsch and Friedrich Raiffeisen, these early credit unions became the model for today’s credit unions in the United States. Distinguishing features of these German credit unions included:

  • Democratic governance;
  • Each member has one vote, regardless of the size of the member’s deposits;
  • Member-elected board of directors; and
  • Volunteer based.

The crop failure and famine of 1846 caused Schulze-Delitzsch to organize a cooperatively-owned mill and bakery that sold bread to its members at substantial savings. Schulze-Delitzsch took this cooperative notion to address the needs of credit, too. In 1850, he organized the first cooperative credit society, known as the people’s bank.

Raiffeisen sought to provide credit to farmers. He formed the Heddesdorf Credit Union in 1864 to help German farmers purchase livestock, equipment, seeds and other farming needs.

In 1900, at the start of the 20th century, the credit union concept crossed the Atlantic to Levis, Quebec, where Alphonse Desjardins organized La Caisse Populaire de Levis. A court reporter, Desjardins became aware of loan sharks charging outrageous interest. In response, he organized this first credit union in North America to provide affordable credit to working class families.

Nearly a decade later, Desjardins helped a group of Franco-American Catholics in Manchester, New Hampshire, organize St. Mary’s Cooperative Credit Association. This first credit union in the United States opened its doors in 1909.

As a result of the efforts of Edward Filene, a merchant and philanthropist, and Pierre Jay, the Massachusetts Banking Commissioner, the Massachusetts Credit Union Act became law April 15, 1909. The Massachusetts law served as a basis for subsequent state credit union laws and the Federal Credit Union Act, which became law 25 years later.

During the 1920s, the U.S. credit union movement became increasingly popular. Families had more money to save and could afford products like automobiles and washing machines. They, however, needed a source of inexpensive credit to purchase these goods. The popularity of credit unions grew because commercial banks and savings institutions generally showed limited interested in offering such consumer loans.

In 1920, Edward Filene hired Roy Bergengren, a poverty lawyer, to manage the Massachusetts Credit Union Association and to promote the development of credit unions. Within a year, Massachusetts chartered 19 new credit unions

Encouraged by this success, Filene organized and Bergengren managed a national association—the Credit Union National Extension Bureau—to promote the establishment of credit unions throughout the United States. By 1925, 26 states had enacted laws to charter credit unions. By 1930, 32 states had adopted credit union laws with a total 1,100 credit unions

In 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act into law, creating a national system to charter and to supervise federal credit unions. The credit union movement grew steadily in the 1940s and 1950s. By 1960, credit union membership amounted to more than 6 million individuals belonging to more than 10,000 federal credit unions.

In 1970, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) became an independent federal agency. Congress also created the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) to protect deposits at credit unions.

The 1970s also brought major changes in the products offered by financial institutions. Credit unions, too, found they needed to expand their services. In 1977, federal legislation allowed U.S. credit unions to offer new services to their members, including share certificates and mortgages.

U.S. credit unions grew tremendously during the 1970s. The number of credit union members more than doubled during the decade, and credit union assets tripled to more than $65 billion.

Deregulation, increased flexibility in merger and field of membership criteria, and expanded member services characterized changes in the 1980s for U.S. credit unions. Early in the decade, high interest rates and unemployment brought supervisory changes and insurance losses, as well.

With the NCUSIF experiencing financial stress, the credit union community called on Congress to approve a recapitalization plan. In 1985, federally insured credit unions recapitalized the NCUSIF—a federal fund backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government—by depositing 1 percent of their shares.

Throughout the 1990s and into the start of the 21st century, U.S. credit unions continued to expand as a group. Because few credit unions failed, the NCUSIF also prospered. Then the nation’s credit union industry faced profound and unprecedented threats to its stability in 2008 and 2009. A steep drop in global financial markets triggered the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression.

The resulting cascade of job losses, bankruptcies, and home foreclosures exerted pressure on the entire American financial services sector—including credit unions. From the onset of the crisis, NCUA took decisive action and worked in concert with Congress, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and other authorities to safeguard the U.S. credit union system

Many of the largest corporate credit unions in the United States, however, invested in troubled mortgage-backed securities that experienced dramatic, unprecedented declines in value, effectively rendering five of these institutions insolvent. The loss to the U.S. credit union system was sizable.

NCUA acted quickly to reduce the total losses resulting from the failure of these five wholesale corporate credit unions—U.S. Central Corporate, Western Corporate, Southwest Corporate, Members United Corporate, and Constitution Corporate. Specifically, the agency worked with Congress and U.S. Treasury Department to establish the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund (Stabilization Fund) to protect the NCUSIF and the stability of U.S. credit unions. Insured credit unions, not taxpayers, will pay back the costs of the Stabilization Fund over time.

In responding to the corporate credit union crisis, NCUA also took the following actions:

  • After placing the five failed corporate credit unions into liquidation, NCUA re-securitized the problematic mortgage-backed securities that caused the failures and sold these notes in the marketplace with a government-backed guarantee.
  • NCUA established a temporary share guarantee for deposits at corporate credit unions.
  • NCUA established bridge corporate credit unions in conservatorship to ensure the services provided to consumer credit unions continued during the resolution and transition period.
  • NCUA worked with members of the bridge corporate credit unions to transition services to new entities where possible.

Even as NCUA managed the corporate credit union crisis, the agency dealt with the declining fortunes of a number of consumer-owned credit unions. While the U.S. credit union system remained strong overall during the financial crisis, consumer-owned credit unions in several regions weakened as a result of spikes in home foreclosures, business failures, and unemployment. A number of these credit unions failed.

To protect against the failure of more credit unions, NCUA implemented a “red flag” early warning system to detect problems in individual credit unions before they became insurmountable. As part of this strategy, NCUA adopted a 12-month examination cycle for federally insured credit unions. NCUA also began to step up administrative actions wherever necessary to ensure prompt compliance. By year-end 2009, more than 96 percent of credit unions met the statutory definition of “well capitalized.”

Today, the U.S. credit union system continues to overcome economic challenges, but the industry has also demonstrated its resilience. NCUA also continues to work, enhancing a credit union system that is safe, sound, secure and serving more Americans than ever before.