The failure to pass a CRA exam can have a very devastating impact on a bank. So CRA performance should be of the utmost importance to a bank, starting at the very top.
Essentially, CRA is all about meeting the credit needs of the communities you have designated as your Assessment Areas. It's all about lending. For a large bank that means showing you are extending an adequate volume of credit (loans) within what you have told regulators are your markets. Moreover, you must show that you are meeting the needs in the low- and moderate-income tracts and of low- and moderate-income borrowers as well as very small businesses (<=$1 Million GAR).
You also have "community development" responsibilities which include lending, investing, and servicing.
It's impossible to give a course on CRA in a few paragraphs. All too often senior management looks at CRA as just another unnecessary regulation - until they get hit with a "needs to improve" rating. If you don't feel comfortable with your understanding of the Regulation you should insist that management pay for you to get adequate training so you can fulfill your CRA responsibilities. The worst feeling in the world is going into a CRA exam and not knowing what to expect (unless you are a masochist!).
BTW, it's not unusual for commercial loan officers to fail to cooperate - they're too busy pursuing loans. Senior management must instill in them that collecting data is not an option - it's a must.
We do online CRA training and so do other consultants so it doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming to get educated. For your own piece of mind, I suggest you aggressively request such training.
CRA Exam Preparation, CRA Performance Evaluations, Key Performance Benchmarks, & maps