I was pleased to attend the recent CDFI Coalition Institute here in Washington, DC. In addition to participating on a panel discussing the latest developments at the CDFI Fund, I along with other members of the Certification, Compliance Monitoring and Evaluation (CCME) team, held ?office hours? to provide one-on-one assistance to a number of CDFIs. It was time well spent for me and my teammates. In this blog, I want to share these same updates and plans with the larger CDFI and CDE community.
For 2018, the CDFI Fund is focused on easing the customer experience. CCME?s objective is to ensure that CDFIs and CDEs spend more time and effort on deploying resources and less on reports and compliance activities.
Here are some of the steps we are currently taken along this path.
Community Investment Impact System (CIIS): As I am sure you know by now, the CDFI Fund is transitioning all of our program activities to the Awards Management Information System (AMIS). AMIS will support all CDFI Fund programs through each phase of the program life cycle, including certification and compliance monitoring?the CDFI Certification application will soon be available in AMIS. As part of this process, the Community Investment Impact System (CIIS)?which CDFIs and CDEs utilize to submit Transactional Level Reports (TLRs) and Institutional Level Reports (ILRs)?will be integrated into AMIS. Recipients will be able to use one system to submit reports, which will provide a more user-friendly reporting process. We expect this process to be complete by fall 2018.
CDFI Certification RFI: In January 2017, the CDFI Fund issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking comments on CDFI certification criteria. This effort is the first examination of CDFI certification guidelines since the CDFI Fund was established in 1994. We embarked on this review to ensure certification tests accurately reflect and assess the evolving nature of the financial services sector and the diversity of CDFIs and the communities they serve. We have taken your comments very seriously and appreciate your effort to provide feedback. The CDFI Fund is in the process of shaping several policy changes as a result of this process.
Rest assured, the changes we make will be preceded by a transition period to provide ample time for CDFIs to implement any new requirements that may result.
Noncompliance Score Card (NSC): CCME has been moving to a risk-based approach for compliance monitoring. Annual report submissions are now being evaluated through a Noncompliance Scorecard (NSC), a tool that allows the CDFI Fund to determine the probability that awards/organizations may become noncompliant with assistance agreements. This process will allow us to provide targeted assistance to organizations that may be at risk of noncompliance.
Customer Service: Providing timely and helpful assistance is a priority for all members of the CCME team. Our goal is to provide awardees, certified CDFIs, and CDEs responsive and pro-active support. CCME holds monthly CDFI certification conference calls that provide a forum for potential CDFI certification applicants certified CDFIs and others to ask questions about the certification and compliance reporting process. The CCME team also hosts quarterly webinars to coincide with compliance reporting deadlines to walk awardees through the reporting process and answer any questions related to report submissions.
Behind-the-Scenes Activities: By now, certified CDFIs are aware of the mandatory Annual Certification Report (ACR). The ACR, which is submitted through AMIS, allows the CDFI Fund to annually assess certified CDFIs? compliance with certification rules. Also through AMIS, CCME sends out automatic 30-day and 15-day reminders to all authorized CDFI representatives notifying them of reports coming due. Expect to see these reminders in connection with the coming July 31, 2018, deadline for ACR submission.
Recent updates in AMIS have allowed the CDFI Fund to automatically approve most ACRs that meet specific criteria. When an ACR requires additional review, it is routed to a portfolio manager who can reach out to the CDFI for more information. These automation features saved the CDFI Fund more than 600 man hours since inception; time that was freed up to allow CCME staff to provide hands-on technical assistance and information to CDFIs, CDEs, and other community development finance organizations.
CCME remains focused on providing service and assistance to ensure CDFI Fund award recipients so that they can maximize their impact in distressed and underserved communities across the nation. Do you have a question for us? Our dedicated team is only an email or phone call away.
Tanya McInnis is Acting Program Manager for Certification, Compliance Monitoring and Evaluation