How the Rules are Made

Designing Rules for a Secure, High-Quality ACH Network

Be Part of the Rulemaking Process

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The Rulemaking Process provides a disciplined, industry-inclusive method for developing new Rules. The NACHA Operating Rules are at NACHA’s heart: without them, we would not have a defined foundation for the exchange of ACH payments.

The rulemaking process is the brains of the operation, logical and well-defined in its inclusive approach. ACH Network users are involved throughout the creation of each new Rule, and we ensure that proposed ACH amendments support the evolving needs of those making and receiving payments.


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Learn How the Rules Are Made

NACHA’s rulemaking process includes feedback and participation from all ACH Network participants. Members and key parties can present proposed Rule changes to NACHA, and individuals or organizations can leverage the Business Idea Submission process to share new Rules ideas with NACHA.

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Who Can Submit an Idea?

Idea generation sources include the following organizations/bodies:

  • NACHA Board of Directors
  • Direct Member Organizations and the Payments Innovation Alliance
  • Standing Committees, Advisory Groups and Task Forces (e.g., Rules & Operations Committee, Risk Management Advisory Group, Direct Member Task Force)
  • ACH Operators
  • Government Agencies (e.g., Treasury/Financial Management Service, Federal Reserve Board, Social Security Administration)
  • NACHA Staff 

Other organizations or parties that wish to have a business idea considered should work with one of these sources.

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How the Rulemaking Process Works

Rule Proposal Development

  • An eligible party presents a Rule proposal to NACHA.
  • The proposal is then shared with NACHA’s Rules and Operations Committee, which consists of industry representatives from ACH Network users, to evaluate the proposed change.  
  • The Rules and Operations Committee may accept the proposal into the Rulemaking Process, reject the proposal, or assign it to a Standing Rules Group, which is also made up of ACH Network users, including businesses and financial institutions.
  • The Rules and Operations Committee develops a Request For Comment (RFC) or Request for Information (RFI) with assistance from a Standing Rules Group. An RFC is created if there is enough information pertaining to the proposed Rule change; an RFI is issued when more information is needed.
  • Staff then draft the Rules language to support the proposal. The Committee obtains expert input from the ACH Operators, the Software Information Exchange (a group of software and service providers), and legal counsel. 

Requesting Feedback to the RFC/RFI

  • The Rules and Operations Committee approves the issuance of an RFC.
  • NACHA distributes the RFC via email communications to the industry at large, requesting feedback from financial institutions, businesses, service providers, government entities, consumer groups and others. In addition, NACHA posts the RFC to its website to encourage broad industry response.
  • The RFC/RFI is open for a set duration of time, generally 45 days, although the time allotted may be longer or shorter depending on the proposal’s complexity. 

Analyzing Responses

  • Staff summarize the RFC responses and share the feedback with the Rules and Operations Committee and the Standing Rules Group.
  • If the responses suggest moving forward, the Rules and Operations Committee and a Standing Rules Group develop a final proposal, with additional expert input.
  • NACHA shares a summary of comments with the industry. 

Balloting

  • The Rules and Operations Committee makes a final decision that a rule proposal should be balloted. 
  • Ballots are distributed to the Voting Membership, and Members vote on the proposed Rule.
  • NACHA communicates the results of the vote to NACHA Direct Members.
  • If the ballot is approved, the NACHA Operating Rules are amended to incorporate it by the implementation date established in the ballot, and a Rules Supplement is formally published to all subscribers.
  • If the ballot is not approved, NACHA evaluates the feedback received and determines what, if any, steps are necessary for addressing the topic raised in the ballot. If additional steps are necessary, NACHA reconvenes the rulemaking process.
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Voting Methods

The Rules can be amended through either a NACHA member vote or weighted vote. The member vote functions like the Senate: each member gets one vote, regardless of the organization’s size. The weighted vote, on the other hand, is akin to the House of Representatives: each member’s vote is weighted in accordance with that organization’s ACH volume and the number of financial institutions it represents.

A Rule can pass in one of two ways:

The "approve" vote exceeds a three-quarters member vote
The "approve" vote exceeds a two-thirds weighted vote

On the other hand, if two-thirds of the members comprising a member category– including Direct Financial Institutions and Regional Payments Associations– vote against a proposed Rule, that Rule would not pass.

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Take an Active Role in the Rulemaking Process

As an ACH Network user, you’re critical to helping us maintain an efficient and equitable rulemaking process. Make your voice heard:

  • Respond to Requests for Information and Requests for Comment.
  • Initiate a Rules change by following the Business Idea Submission process.
  • Serve on appropriate rulemaking work groups.
  • As a Member, vote on proposed rules.
  • Participate in dialogue around the NACHA Operating Rules at industry forums.
  • Respond to NACHA surveys. 

Participate more.

We encourage the entire industry to engage with us and help us explore new opportunities for the ACH Network.

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Committee Participation Policies

To directly contribute to the rulemaking process, you can seek nomination and selection to one of the groups primarily responsible for crafting new Rules. You’ll contribute to proposed Rules in critical areas.

Rules and Operations Committee

Composition: NACHA Direct Members, FIs members of RPAs and other stakeholders as NACHA deems appropriate. One non-voting liaison each from the ACH Operators, US Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.
Term: Two years, may serve two consecutive terms
Nomination: Nomination approved by the Chair

Duties:

  • Provides strategic oversight to the Rulemaking process, monitors the progress of issues, and makes decisions about next steps for an initiative (based on recommendations from the Standing Rules Groups)
  • Assesses potential new applications and services, and review and approve pilot proposals
  • Reviews Requests for Information and Requests for Comments
  • Reviews and approves distribution of ballots to the NACHA voting membership
  • Reports to the Board

Standing Rules Groups

Composition: NACHA Direct Members, FIs members of RPAs and other stakeholders as NACHA deems appropriate. One representative from the Rules and Operations Committee. One non-voting liaison each from the ACH Operators, US Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.
Term: Two years, may serve two consecutive term
Nomination: Nominations approved by the Chair of the Rules and Operations Committee

Duties:

Product Innovation Standing Rules Group

  • Focuses on new ways to use or enhance the ACH Network
  • Evaluates rule proposals and develops documentation for Requests for Information/Comments (RFIs/RFCs) and ballots as appropriate

Risk & Quality Standing Rules Group

  • Focuses on Rules related to risk and quality in the ACH Network
  • Evaluates rule proposals and develops documentation for two RFI/RFC and ballot periods per year (this may include multiple RFIs/RFCs and ballots during an issuance period)

Compliance & Operations Standing Rules Group

  • Focuses on Rules related to operations, Network maintenance, and compliance with outside regulations
  • Evaluates rule proposals and develops documentation for two RFI/RFC and ballot periods per year (this may include multiple RFIs/RFCs and ballots during an issuance period), or additional ballots if legal or regulatory issues require faster action

Software Information Exchange (SIX)

Eligibility: ACH Operators, software vendors and third party service providers that (1) offer ACH processing software solutions and (2) are NACHA Alliance/Affiliate members
Term: Unlimited, as long as the Alliance/Affiliate membership remains valid
Size: No limit to number of qualified participants
Nomination: Overseen by the Rules and Operations Committee

Duties:

  • Acts as the formal mechanism through which the solution provider community shares considerations during the Rules development process, in addition to providing RFC and RFI feedback
  • Provides solution providers with more advanced information and opportunity for discussion on proposed NACHA Rule changes, and fosters information-sharing
  • Provides input on how changes to ACH processing and software would impact Network participants
  • Facilitates understanding technical aspects of Rule changes to enable sufficient software modification
  • Communicates during the Rulemaking Process to ensure that software provider issues are understood in the context of other ACH participant categories

To directly contribute to the rulemaking process, you can seek nomination and selection to one of the groups primarily responsible for crafting new Rules. You’ll contribute to proposed Rules in critical areas.