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OPIC earns a top rating for innovation in the federal government

Screenshot of OPIC's application page
In an effort to improve efficiency and reduce application review times, OPIC has put more of its application forms online.

Innovation has long been a core value at OPIC: It is reflected in the groundbreaking financial and insurance products we offer to support U.S. companies operating in some of the most challenging places on the planet, as well as in the way we conduct our internal operations.

Recently OPIC was recognized for our ability to adapt to change by seeking out new and improved ways of doing business. The agency was ranked second for innovation among 54  small federal government agencies, based on the 2011 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey conducted by the Office of Personnel Management.

“These results point to the intellect, creativity and commitment of OPIC staff to do whatever it takes to find solutions for clients – both internal clients and external ones – in order to advance our mission,” said OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield.

Employees who participated in the survey were asked whether they sought new ways to work more effectively and whether they felt that creativity and innovation were rewarded in the workplace.

And while the recognition is gratifying, the results confirm to a large extent what those of us at OPIC are already seeing. OPIC, in continued response to President Obama’s Accountable Government Initiative, has launched a range of initiatives designed to save money and operate more effectively and more efficiently. These initiatives – many which were made at the suggestion of our own staff – include:

  • Simplified approval processes – In the fall of 2010, OPIC put together a taskforce to develop a new process for reviewing loan and loan guarantee proposals that clarifies requirements, eliminates duplication and streamlines the approval process. As a result, the average time for the project review and approval has been reduced by three weeks.
  • Coordination with other development finance institutions – Because OPIC clients and the lenders that work with our clients sometimes work with other development finance institutions, OPIC has negotiated a cooperation agreement with peer DFIs such as the International Finance Corporation. The agreement focuses on harmonizing loan documentation, due diligence and legal processes, to save time and reduce costs for lenders and clients, and in turn, help OPIC increase its impact with fewer resources.
  • Negotiating framework agreements – These agreements, entered with U.S. banks, enable OPIC to delegate some of the due diligence involved in loan origination, freeing up resources so that the agency can better utilize its expertise and achieve a broader development impact.
  • Issuing “master” insurance contracts – Investors sometimes need to insure a series of similar projects and by issuing a single master contract OPIC can significantly speed up the negotiation, clearance, approval and administration process. Relief organizations such as the International Rescue Committee have used these contracts to protect their assets in post-conflict countries.

In addition to these changes that have focused on more efficient dealings with clients, OPIC has made targeted investments in IT and E-Business solutions to improve internal operations. These investments saved 16.4% in core technology costs in 2011, which amounts to a 4.7% savings in non-salary administrative costs.

In this analysis of the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results, Partnership for Public Service explains that a culture of innovation is essential to improving overall results and delivering value, particularly in a time of budget constraints when employees are being asked to do more with fewer resources. OPIC has taken that challenge seriously and is pleased with the results of our efforts.

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