US Coins

US Mint director nominee faces Senate scrutiny

U.S. Mint Director nominee David J. Ryder fielded few questions during his Oct. 24 confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. Committee members spent most of their time grilling two nominees for the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Color image screen capture from confirmation hearing; background image of Philadelphia Mint courtesy of U.S. Mint.

Should he be confirmed as the 39th director of the United States Mint, David J. Ryder said among his top priorities would be combating sophisticated, high-quality counterfeiting of United States bullion coins.

Ryder’s remark came in response to a question posed by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., during Ryder’s Oct. 24 nomination hearing before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

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Approval of his nomination by the full Senate would return Ryder, 55, to run the U.S. Mint for the second time. Ryder served as the 34th director of the U.S. Mint from Sept. 3, 1992, through Nov. 24, 1993. Ryder’s second nomination is for a full five-year term.

Ryder fielded few questions from committee members during the 90-minute hearing. Most of the questioning was reserved for two nominees for positions on the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Tillis asked Ryder what he believed the future of coins is over the next 20 to 30 years. Ryder responded he didn’t feel coins were going away any time soon, but the Mint has to respond to technology challenges and how they apply to coins and where coins are used in commerce.

An anti-counterfeiting strategy

Ryder called developing an anti-counterfeiting strategy for bullion coins is a “critical issue” that needs to be addressed because of the quality of fakes being manufactured in China and dumped on the U.S. market.

Ryder has spent the past 25 years in the private sector working on anti-counterfeiting and security measures involving coins and paper money since leaving the government after a 14-month stint as the 34th Mint director.

The Senate Banking Committee chairman, Sen. Michael Crapo, R-Idaho, asked Ryder what his priorities would be if confirmed. Ryder replied that, since the Mint has been without a chief executive since 2011, among measures needing to be addressed are Equal Employment Opportunity issues, manufacturing and technology advances, and working to make sure commemorative coins present the value and revenue return anticipated by legislators.

The committee’s former chairman, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., asked what the U.S. Mint will do about addressing alternative payment methods, under the banner cryptocurrency. Ryder said the Mint has to grow its technology base and added he would welcome prospective vendors to assist in this vein.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said there are 10,629 people in the state of South Carolina employed in the business of recycling. He asked Ryder what the Mint was doing about its Mutilated Coin Redemption Program, which has been suspended for two years. Ryder said regulations are being finalized for the Mint to reinstate the program before the end of calendar year 2017.

Opening remarks

In his opening statement, Ryder said he would like to make education one of his major focal areas.

“As the 34th Mint Director, we introduced an initiative called the Money Story,” Ryder said. “The goal of this initiative was to educate the youth of this nation on the history of money, both coinage and paper currency, via a teacher’s curriculum and video co-developed by the U.S. Mint and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. This packet of information was made available to all teachers for use in the classroom. Teaching our youth early on how to collect coins and other numismatic products, as well as how to start saving their hard-earned money, helps lay the foundation of the importance of money.

“Over the years, the Mint has continued this excellent tradition via various education tools which are located on their website.”

Ryder said his work over the past 25 years since leaving the Mint has prepared him even more to handle the challenges for the future.

“Having worked in the currency industry for the past 25 plus years, I have developed a strong operational and technical understanding of this tight-knit industry,” Ryder said. “I respect the men and women who dedicate their lives to this industry. During my time with Secure Products and Honeywell, I was afforded the opportunity to visit and work with many private and government currency manufacturers here in the United States, as well as around the world. I will bring to the Mint Director position a strong understanding of the industry and many of the challenges it faces.

“Interestingly, one of my last duties while at Honeywell was a joint project with The Royal Mint of the United Kingdom where we assisted them in the development of the new UK One Pound Coin, which was introduced earlier this year. This new circulating coin is considered to be the most advanced and secure coins in circulation today.”

Sen. Crapo advised Senate Banking Committee members to submit any additional questions by noon ET Oct. 26, with Ryder to provide responses by Oct. 30. Should Ryder’s nomination be voted out of committee, it would go before a vote of the full Senate.

The Mint has been without a director since Edmund C. Moy resigned in January 2011 to re-enter the private sector with almost eight months remaining on his presidentially appointed five-year term.

Neither of the two nominations for Mint director made by former President Obama — first of Bibiana Boerio and the second of Matthew Rhett Jeppson — ever progressed to receive Senate approval.

Since 2007, Ryder has been global business development manager for Honeywell Authentication Technologies as a manufacturer and supplier of covert and forensic security features for the authentication of currency, value documents and products.

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