James Lockhart, the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) who spent years pressing for stricter oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is expected to imminently announce his resignation, according to several sources.
The timing of his departure is unclear, though sources said Lockhart may remain on the job until the end of September.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has repeatedly asked Lockhart to delay his resignation until yearend, but the Finance Agency chief, who commutes to Washington from his Connecticut home, has made his desire to leave well-known.
Representatives from the Finance Agency and the Treasury did not immediately respond Wednesday to requests for comment.
The move represents yet another change in leadership for Fannie and Freddie, which have operated under a government conservatorship for nearly a year. Both government-sponsored enterprises have gone through three chief executives over the past year.
It also leaves the Finance Agency without a clear successor.
Ed DeMarco, the Finance Agency's senior deputy director and chief operating officer, is expected to lead the agency on an interim basis. Candidates for a permanent successor include Konrad Alt, the managing director of Promontory Financial Group who was once a top official at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; Geoff Bacino, a former director at the Federal Housing Finance Board; and Tim McTaggert, a partner at Pepper Hamilton.
The administration has also approached Eugene Ludwig, the former comptroller who now runs Promontory, and Jonathan Fiechter, a former bank regulator now working at the International Monetary Fund.
Lockhart, a former navy lieutenant, was nominated to lead the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight by President George W. Bush and won Senate confirmation in June 2006. He almost immediately began stumping for legislation that would toughen oversight of Fannie and Freddie and bring the Federal Home Loan Banks under the same regulator as the larger GSEs.
After much debate, Congress finally passed legislation creating the Finance Agency in July 2008. But Lockhart has said lawmakers waited too long to act. As their capital deteriorated and the housing market cratered, his agency seized Fannie and Freddie in September 2008, ousting their leadership in the process.
Though Lockhart was close to Bush, he has continued to play a role in the Obama administration's effort to stem home foreclosures, including the Making Home Affordable Program announced by the White House earlier in the year.
Despite widespread frustration that Fannie and Freddie have not done enough to modify troubled mortgages, Lockhart took something of a victory lap in a speech last week at the National Press Club marking the Finance Agency's first anniversary.
"Despite the unanticipated conservatorship of two of the largest financial institutions in the country and the turmoil in the housing market and economy, the FHFA team is working together to meet many challenges," he said. "Everything we are doing at FHFA makes a difference, and in the past year, we have also made history."