The National Association of Insurance Commissioners says it is moving its headquarters to the District of Columbia.

Officials at the NAIC, which has been based in Kansas City, Mo., talked about the move during a press conference, as Therese Vaughan, the new NAIC chief executive officer, discussed her views on the role of the federal government in insurance. Vaughan, a former Iowa insurance commissioner and a former NAIC president, succeeds Catherine Weatherford, who left in July 2008. Weatherford has become president of NAVA Inc., Reston, Va.

The NAIC now has 16 staff members in Washington, 48 in New York and 377 in Kansas City. It will keep the operations it has in New York and Kansas City but will move executive officers to Washington and add employees there, NAIC officials say.

NAIC officials first suggested that some top executives would move to Washington around the time that Weatherford left the organization.

In addition to moving executive officers to Washington, the NAIC will set up an NAIC Office of Insurance Information,Vaughan said.

The new CEO said she can understand concerns about how setting up the office could be a first step toward establishing a federal regulatory agency. But “we need someone in federal government who is conversant on insurance,” Vaughan said.

The NAIC also announced the Andrew Beale, the chief legal officer, who has been serving as interim CEO, will become the NAIC’s chief operating officer.

Also at the press conference:

- Vaughan said she is resigning from two non-NAIC board seats, at Principal Financial Group Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, and the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association, Washington.

- Vaughan referred to an op-ed she wrote in May 2008, in which she suggested that an insurance commissioner must deal first with local issues, then with national issues and finally with international issues.

The “U.S. insurance regulatory system is structurally unable to speak and act with one voice, try as it may,” Vaughan wrote in the op-ed. “This problem is exacerbated by the turnover in leadership at the NAIC, with a new president and possibly a new agenda every year.”

Vaughan supported the idea of Congress considering a Treasury Department proposal to create a federal insurance office that would represent the U.S. insurance industry in international negotiations.