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An agency punching above its weight

Elizabeth Littlefield and CEO with Judith Pryor at Capitol Hill

OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield confers with Judith Pryor, OPIC’s Vice President of External Affairs prior to a Dec. 11 hearing with the Senate’s Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight.

OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield underscored the efficiency and effectiveness of OPIC’s global investment initiatives to the subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, part of the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs during a hearing Dec. 11.

Littlefield’s testimony highlighted some of OPIC’s many successful investment projects, which reduced the Federal Deficit by $426 million for fiscal year 2013 while supporting US foreign policy in developing nations. The self-sustaining government agency has generated these positive contributions to the US taxpayer for 36 consecutive years through such successes.

“A Missouri-based company is using a $250 million OPIC loan to build and operate a solar photovoltaic plant in South Africa’s Free State province,” said Littlefield.

“And thanks to OPIC support, a family-owned clothing business from the state of Georgia started a factory in Afghanistan to produce uniforms for that country’s military and police,” she added. “This factory employs Afghan women, most of whose husbands were killed in the war there. For the first time these Afghan women are earning enough money to support their families.”

But beyond beneficial results of OPIC investment, the focus of the hearing was the efficiency and effectiveness of overseas development agencies. In both her testimony and answers to questioning about OPIC, Littlefield reiterated the operational acumen of the relatively small, but highly adept agency she leads.

At the close of the hearing, subcommittee chair Sen. Claire McCaskill recognized that OPIC was an agency “punching above its weight” and largely praised both financial and policy successes of OPIC investment and insurance projects.

In keeping with the focus of the hearing, McCaskill questioned Littlefield about an inspector general to further promote OPIC’s transparency and accountability. Littlefield replied that OPIC has already been working with its authorizers in the Senate and House of Representatives to strengthen its IG function through legislation. McCaskill encouraged this pursuit, agreeing that improved transparency would help the agency to continue its good work.

Littlefield was joined in the hearing by Leocadia Zak, Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. The subcommittee also praised Zak’s agency’s operations and noted that USTDA and OPIC pursue common goals through separate strategies.

Download the testimony from Wednesday’s hearing.


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