FHA Hammer Award Presentation
National Performance Review Director Bob Stone and Federal Housing Administration Commissioner Nicolas Retsinas (holding Hammer Award) with HUD's FHA Mortgage Sales Team.

12/11/96: Federal Housing Administration Teams Win Hammer Awards

Ten Teams of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) employees were honored for their outstanding contributions towards reinvention of government. Hammer Awards were presented to FHA's "Heroes of Reinvention" by NPR Director Bob Stone and Assistant Secretary for Housing/ FHA Commissioner Nicolas P. Retsinas. With 15 Hammer Awards in the past two years, FHA continues to prove that with innovation, creativity and solid leadership, government can find ways to save taxpayer's hard-earned dollars, provide improved service, and break the old mold of government.

For 62 years, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has helped America's nearly 25 million families fulfill their dream of homeownership. To continue this role for America's future homeowners, FHA realizes that it must blend the best of the public and private sectors: striving for the efficiency and flexibility of a private business in ever-changing markets while being true to its public mission. The following teams and accomplishments were recognized.

The HUD Mortgage Sales Team launched an aggressive program to sell defaulted single and multifamily HUD-owned mortgages. Thus far HUD has sold more than 50,000 mortgages. In doing so we have made a profit of over $1 Billion. Assistant Secretary for Housing/FHA Commissioner Nicolas P. Retsinas said, "This program is conducted in a straightforward business-like manner, balancing HUD's social purpose with fiscal responsibility. In doing so, HUD is establishing greater credibility with its partners in private industry, and the homeowners and residents we serve."

The Single Family Paperwork Reduction Team is working to achieve the Department's goal of moving towards a more paperless environment. This team is in the process of significantly reducing the amount of paperwork involved in the origination of a FHA-insured mortgage. Says Retsinas, "Conducting business with our clients in a progressively more paperless environment is part of the future of FHA". The savings to the lender may be passed on to the consumer making Homeownership more affordable".

The Reengineering FHA Business Practices Team has streamlined the lender approval process for both the Federal Housing Administration and lenders, permitting the greater use of technology, and more closely reflecting the conventional marketplace. It resulted in lenders managing their business without FHA micromanaging their operation. It has resulted in reduced cost for lenders to conduct business with FHA and increased FHA access to prospective homebuyers. It resulted in an improved partnership between FHA and lenders enabling first-time homebuyers, low- and moderate-income borrowers, and minorities to become homeowners. This effort has reduced branch application processing time from two to three weeks to one day.

The FHA-Comptroller Paperless Process Team has been turning the working environment of The Department into a paperless environment. EDI is a means of trading information electronically between businesses. Much of this has been accomplished with the use of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). EDI technology allows businesses (termed trading partners) to exchange standardized business data between computer applications, eliminating the need to manually process data or re-enter data from one system to another.

The key objective is to provide better service, in a more cost effective environment, to mortgagees doing business with the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). With EDI, the processing of Single Family Claims has been reduced from three weeks to two days. "This team has helped to eliminate paper, while also cutting processing time and making doing business with HUD more cost effective" says Retsinas.

With the implementation of the Public Inquiry Communication (PICS) System, FHA is able to respond to inquiries from homeowners regarding their FHA insurance, eligibility for refund of MIP, and status of their refunds faster, more accurately, and more efficiently, and at much lower cost. Responses that used to take 3 months, are now received by homeowners in 3-5 days.

Neighborhood Networks is an initiative that has reversed the federal government's usual top-down approach to multifamily housing management and opened new economic opportunities by encouraging residents, owners and managers of HUD assisted housing to create computer learning centers on-site with the help of other community partners and resources, both public and private.

Together with our partners, HUD and the Clinton Administration are trying to transform dead-end projects into centers of learning -- a network of neighbors -- who, with the help of technology and hard work -- can "graduate" to opportunity and self-sufficiency.

There are now some 80 centers that are operational and another 130 with plans approved to come online. Overall, More than 600 Multifamily projects are involved in Neighborhood Networks.

The Multifamily SWAT Team has reinvented the method in which the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) protects the residents who live in the 1.7 million housing units in the Department's multifamily insured portfolio. The SWAT team has successfully been involved with the relocation of over 500 families to safe and decent housing. This program has also ensured that over $62 million in housing subsidies were spent in the way tax payers intended them to be spent: for decent housing that compliments the neighborhoods.

The Multifamily Insurance Fastrack Processing Team has reduced both time and money spent by the government in processing mortgage insurance applications for privately-owned multifamily housing. As a result of this effort, better multifamily housing developments are approved in a substantially shorter time frame at less processing costs to the taxpayer. Direct processing costs have been reduced as much as 50%; processing time frames have been shortened by 60-75%. More staff time is available to focus on the quality of the neighborhoods being developed.

The Voucher Processing Center Team created the first Voucher Processing Center which began operations in the Kansas/Missouri State Office in November, 1995, with the goal of improving the Department's financial controls and customer service. This effort has reinvented FHA's process for making rental assistance payments to owners and management agents of HUD-assisted apartments.

The Multifamily Property Disposition Demonstration Team has formed a model partnership between FHA, The Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency, and low and moderate income residents in Boston to dispose of in an efficient and economic manner, HUD-owned multifamily properties. This partnership enables HUD to manage a very ambitious and challenging program with limited staff resources and to do so in a highly efficient and effective manner.

For More Information: Richard E. Greenfield (202) 708-2733

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