HUD Inspector General:

Actions Needed to Strengthen Management and Oversight of Operation Safe Home

GAO-01-794: Published: Jun 29, 2001. Publicly Released: Jun 29, 2001.

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This report reviews the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) efforts to combat violent crime and drug trafficking in public housing through Operation Safe Home. GAO found that Operation Safe Home lacks the necessary information systems and management controls to ensure that HUD's Office of Inspector General (OIG) can readily monitor the obligation and expenditure of funds and track the numbers of arrests and convictions. As a result, the OIG cannot reliably allocate program resources or accurately estimate its funding needs. Furthermore, in the absence of complete, consistent, or accurate information, the OIG cannot Congress with reliable and supportable information on Operation Safe Home's accomplishments. The OIG recognizes the need for more effective management controls within Operation Safe Home and has begun to address the problem. These actions, once implemented, should help the OIG to allocate resources more effectively, better estimate future funding needs, and more accurately measure and report the program's accomplishments. However, GAO remains concerned about OIG's long-term involvement in Operation Safe Home. The OIG cannot independently and impartially audit or investigate Operation Safe Home, and may not be perceived as impartial when auditing other similar HUD programs. For these reasons, Operation Safe Home raises questions about the OIG's ability to independently audit and investigate HUD programs designed to reduce violent and drug-related crime in public and assisted housing.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Matter for Congressional Consideration

    Matter: Congress should consider whether the long-term involvement of the HUD OIG in Operation Safe Home is worth the actual or perceived impairment of the OIG's independence in performing audits and investigations of HUD's programs to reduce violent and drug-related crime in public and assisted housing.

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Operation Safe Home was terminated by Congress on November 26, 2001, in Public Law 107-73. This law states that "no funds may be used" for Operation Safe Home. Furthermore, Congress rescinded Operation Safe Home's unobligated balances from fiscal years 2001 and prior. Prior to the enactment of PL 107-73, a senate conference report (S. Rept. 107-43), stated that this action was "due to problems identified in a recent General Accounting Office report."

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The HUD Inspector General or the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development--depending on Congress' decision regarding the involvement of the HUD OIG in Operation Safe Home--should ensure that actions begun by the Inspector General to improve the management and oversight of Operation Safe Home are fully and effectively implemented in a timely manner. Specifically, HUD should improve the accountability over Operation Safe Home task force activity funds by developing and implementing a system to track funding allotted to and obligated and expended by individual task forces.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Since Operation Safe Home was terminated by Congress (PL 107-73), the need for HUD to address the management and oversight issues identified are moot. On November 26, 2001, Public Law 107-73 was enacted. This law terminated Operation Safe Home. That is, it states that "no funds may be used" for Operation Safe Home. Furthermore, Congress rescinded Operation Safe Home's unobligated balances from fiscal years 2001 and prior.

    Recommendation: The HUD Inspector General or the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development--depending on Congress' decision regarding the involvement of the HUD OIG in Operation Safe Home--should ensure that actions begun by the Inspector General to improve the management and oversight of Operation Safe Home are fully and effectively implemented in a timely manner. Specifically, HUD should improve the reliability of Operation Safe Home investigative data by (1) promulgating additional guidance to be used by HUD staff when inputting investigative information into the recently developed information system and (2) properly maintaining documentation supporting investigative data reported to Congress.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Since Operation Safe Home was terminated by Congress (PL 107-73), the need for HUD to address the management and oversight issues identified are moot. On November 26, 2001, Public Law 107-73 was enacted. This law terminated Operation Safe Home. That is, it states that "no funds may be used" for Operation Safe Home. Furthermore, Congress rescinded Operation Safe Home's unobligated balances from fiscal years 2001 and prior.

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