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April 2023 » 25 April 2023 C O V E R F E A T U R E the risks and costs associated with that. So, between our very strong financial position, the fact that we had managed successfully through the pandemic, and that we saw prospective homeowners suffering in this market—both from higher rates and the un- precedented rate of home price appreciation we'd seen during the pandemic—we felt like it was core to our mission to try to reduce the premium that we charge. We are here to help people when they can't be served by other means. We have an upfront premium as well as an annual premium, and we focused on the annual premium because most people finance their upfront premium, and that means if we had changed that, the monthly savings would have been quite small amortized over the length of the mortgage. Changing the annual premium was going to give us the greatest monthly payment savings for borrowers, which we felt would put money in their pockets both immediately and going forward. Q: We spoke with Brian Montgomery a few times in recent years when he was in your role, and he often spoke about the focus on upgrading FHA's technological infrastructure. Where does that priority stand now, and what remains to be done? IT modernization is at the heart of mov- ing forward into the future. IT moderniza- tion work is hard everywhere in the industry, but it is hardest inside a government agency where you work with, in our case, a CIO who must manage the needs of the entire Depart- ment, not just FHA, and where we work through complex government procurement processes. It's challenging at every moment, but it must be a top priority. You can't be involved in mortgages and housing without it being a top priority. Technology plays an ever-larger role in everything we do in every sphere of our professional and personal lives, and the mortgage business is no excep- tion. At FHA, we seek to deliver the best and most modern technology we can for lenders, servicers, and other external partners, as well as internal partners. Some of the work that Brian Montgom- ery, in particular, had done on IT moderniza- tion laid the groundwork for what we are doing now. Having electronic case binder submission technology in place kept our business operational at the height of the pandemic stay-at-home orders. I don't know what would've happened if we were still working off paper files. We also now have the updated claims system and the single- family default monitoring system, and these core building blocks of FHA Catalyst have taken us a long way. But multiple systems still need to be upgraded. We are now work- ing in an agile development environment where systems will continue to improve and change over time. It's not like, "Okay, we fin- ished project X, now we never have to think about it again."

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