NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The Office of Thrift Supervision has been getting tough just as it gets ready to disband, leading some to accuse OTS officials of acting to salvage their career prospects in a newly vigilant regulatory community. While all financial regulators appear to have toughened up in the wake of the financial crisis, the shift by the OTS has attracted particular attention since many in the banking industry regard it as having been especially lax leading up to the crisis. A Washington-based attorney at a large corporate law firm and a sell-side bank analyst, neither of whom wanted to be quoted for fear of offending regulators, say they think OTS officials are trying to show they are tough so they will not be marginalized as they shift to new jobs, mostly at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). That sounds like at least one plausible explanation to Roy Whitehead, CEO of Seattle-based thrift Washington Federal ( WFSL). "I believe that the OTS has developed a tougher approach to regulation since the crisis began. Whether this is a response to lessons learned in the crisis, political pressure, or the perceived need to demonstrate professional toughness to the new sheriff in town, which would be perfectly human, is difficult to know. Probably a combination of the three," Whitehead wrote in an email exchange with TheStreet. The OTS was the regulator on the two biggest U.S. bank failures of the crisis, Washington Mutual and IndyMac. OTS officials have argued this is a mischaracterization since other struggling banks, such as Wachovia, Citigroup ( C) and Bank of America ( BAC) could easily have failed without regulatory intervention, but were protected because they were seen as more systemically important. In 2009, the Obama Administration prosed the OTS be merged into the OCC as part of a larger financial reform package. Spokesmen for the OCC and the OTS both rejected the notion that OTS officials are getting tough to protect their careers. Bill Ruberry, the OTS spokesman, says enforcement orders and other regulatory actions go through multiple layers of approval, so an effort by OTS officials to save their jobs by getting tough would require "some kind of grand conspiracy." Ruberry also rejects the notion that the OTS has become tougher since the crisis, arguing that enforcement actions are up and exam ratings are down "because the health of the industry has declined."