Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Status of Achieving Key Outcomes and Addressing Major Management Challenges

GAO-01-833: Published: Jul 6, 2001. Publicly Released: Aug 6, 2001.

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This report reviews the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) fiscal year 2000 performance report and fiscal year 2002 performance plan to assess the agency's progress in achieving selected key outcomes important to the agency's mission. GAO found that although HUD did not attain all of the goals pertaining to the selected key outcomes in its fiscal year 2000 annual performance plan, the performance report shows that HUD made some progress toward achieving the outcomes. However, HUD's progress varied for each outcome, and the information presented in the performance report does not always provide enough information for the reader to evaluate HUD's contribution to achieving the outcome. In general, HUD's strategies for achieving these outcomes appear to be clear and reasonable.

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

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should include sufficient information in the performance report to evaluate HUD's accomplishments, including an overall assessment of HUD's progress towards achieving its goals, identification of HUD's specific contributions to achieving its goals, and determination of the contributions of other entities to HUD's goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GAO recommended that HUD include sufficient information in its Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) to evaluate HUD's accomplishments, including (1) an overall assessment of HUD's progress towards achieving its goals, and (2) identification of HUD's specific contributions to achieving its goals, and determination of the contributions of other entities (external factors or other contributors) to HUD's goals. GAO reported in March 2004 that, although HUD's fiscal year 2002 PAR required an extensive review to make an assessment, HUD's report generally allowed for an assessment of the progress made in achieving agency goals. In addition, HUD maintained or demonstrated improvements over the quality of their 1999 report in discussing progress achieved in addressing performance and accountability challenges identified by agency IGs and GAO. Specifically, the fiscal year 2002 PAR includes a report card listing its performance indicators with the corresponding achievement, a list of program evaluations concluded during the fiscal year, trend information for some of its performance indicators, a discussion of the department's attempts to address it performance and accountability challenges, and visual aids to illustrate information on its performance. HUD's 2002 PAR also identifies HUD-specific contributions to achieving its goals and those from other entity's contributions. For example, under the goal for increasing homeownership rates, the PAR delineates HUD's specific contributions to this goal, such as FHA single-family mortgage insurance programs that offer low down payments, liberal income qualification guidelines, and flexible credit standards. The PAR also clearly points to the contributions of the other factors to this goal, such as declines in household income, and employment due the slowing economy and low market interest rates in maintaining the flat but high home-ownership rate. Additionally, under a goal concerning the promotion of affordable housing under HUD's HOME program, the fiscal year 2002 PAR points to specific contributions, including training and technical assistance to participating jurisdictions, rolling out six new training courses focusing on productivity, and issuing monthly production reports posted on the Web. The PAR details how this indicator is affected by external factors and contributors, including the level of annual HOME appropriations, the number of new, relatively inexperienced participating jurisdictions entering the program, the choices participating jurisdictions make among their competing housing needs, fiscal conditions affecting State and local government program staffing levels, and general economic conditions affecting the cost and availability of housing and income levels of potential buyers.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should continue improving the performance plan by better estimating the resources necessary to achieve the goals, articulating strategies to achieve the goals and mitigate the problems encountered, and further discussing coordination strategies with other federal agencies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GAO reported in March 2004, that HUD improved their efforts to provide a clear picture of intended performance and improved the specificity of the strategies and resources they intended to use to achieve its performance goals. First, the 2004 Annual Performance Plan (APP) articulates strategies HUD intends to use in meeting particular performance goals. For example, to address the government-wide high-risk area of strategic human capital management, HUD states that to develop its staff capacity, it will complete a comprehensive workforce analysis in 2004 to serve as the basis to fill mission-critical skill gaps through succession planning, hiring, and training initiatives in a 5-year human capital management strategy. Second, the 2004 APP describes the funding levels needed to achieve HUD's performance goals. For example, HUD's 2004 APP provides its requested funding and staffing levels at the strategic goal level. Overall, GAO reported that HUD's 2004 APP provided general discussions of how their strategies and resources would contribute to achieving its performance goals. HUD's 2005 APP reflects additional improvements that address GAO's recommendation. Specifically, the 2005 APP discusses broad coordination with other federal agencies under each of HUD's strategic goals. For example, under the strategic goal of promoting decent affordable housing, the APP states that HUD and HHS work collaboratively to increase the availability of assisted living facilities for low-income seniors. Additionally, under the strategic goal to strengthen communities, the APP states that HUD plans to work with the Departments of Justice and Labor on a four-year program to help individuals exiting from prison make a successful transition to community life and long-term employment.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should include sufficient goals, measures, and strategies to demonstrate HUD's efforts and progress in addressing its management challenges. In support of HUD's efforts to continue improving its management, future performance plans would benefit from the inclusion of goals, measures, or strategies to assess the prevention and detection of fraud, waste, and error, as well as a risk assessment process to identify the most vulnerable programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GAO reported in March 2004 that HUD improved the quality of its performance plan by including performance measures in the 2004 Annual Performance Plan (APP), that generally indicate how the department will gauge progress toward achieving its goals. For example, the performance plan lists a series of performance measures for each objective that can be used to indicate progress towards the department's goals and expected performance. These measures are also objective and a number of them have been quantified, another key area where HUD has improved since its first performance plan. For example, under the strategic objective to "Rebuild HUD's human capital and further diversify its workforce," the 2004 APP states that HUD will complete a Comprehensive Workforce Analysis and produce a Departmental Workforce plan in fiscal year (FY) 2004 (EM.1.2). In another example, activities supporting HUD's long-term strategic objective to "Improve the Physical Quality and Management Accountability of Public and Assisted Housing" include, among other things, eliminating 100,000 units of the worst public housing. According to the current plan, the department intends to demolish 10,000 of these units in FY 2004 (A.2.8). GAO also reported that HUD's fiscal year 2002 Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) discusses the steps the department took to address decade-long management challenges. For example, while HUD's report mentions that deficiencies remain in its financial management systems, in FY 2002 the department initiated a project to design and implement an integrated financial system. Similarly, to address staffing imbalances and human capital challenges, HUD implemented the last phase of its Resource Estimation and Allocation Process in January 2002, and started to implement the Total Estimation and Allocation Mechanism, a tool that collects actual workload accomplishments and staff usage within the various operating components at HUD. The 2004 APP also contains specific goals and measures to demonstrate HUD's efforts to assess the prevention of fraud, waste, and error. For example, under the President's Management Agenda, HUD's goal is to reduce rental assistance program errors and resulting erroneous payments 50 percent by 2005, including two interim goals of reducing erroneous payments by 15 percent in FY 2003, and by 30 percent in FY 2004, cited in both the 2002 PAR, and the 2004 APP. Under the strategic objective "Ensure program compliance," HUD's 2004 APP provides the following performance measure to address this goal: the high incidence of program errors and improper payments in HUD's rental housing assistance programs will be reduced (EM.4.1). Additionally, under the strategic objective "Fight practices that permit predatory lending," HUD's 2004 APP states that by the end of FY 2003, FHA will prevent the issuance of FHA mortgage insurance on properties that have been transferred within 90 days to address the predatory lending practice of property 'flipping' (H.4.1). Finally, HUD's 2004 PAR lists four tools that the Department is using to address weaknesses in the Department's control environment that can impact HUD's ability to effectively manage its programs. These include (1) the Front End Risk Assessment process, (2) the Quality Management Review program, (3) delivery of the Compliance and Monitoring Course for managers and supervisors, and (4) achieving management decisions on all audit recommendations within statutory timeframes.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should include an assessment of completeness and reliability of performance data that clearly articulates the implications of relying on that data to evaluate HUD's achievements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GAO recommended that HUD include in its Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) an assessment of the completeness and reliability of performance data that clearly articulates the implications of relying on that data to evaluate HUD's achievements. In March 2004, GAO reported that HUD's fiscal year 2002 PAR showed improvements over previous PARs, and provided a general level of confidence in the credibility of performance data (out of a range of levels including no, limited, general or full confidence). Specifically, GAO reported that the 2002 PAR includes background information, results, analysis, and a discussion of the data used for each performance indicator during the fiscal year. Additionally, GAO reported that HUD's fiscal year 2002 PAR described data limitations, although mostly briefly and at a high level, and discussed HUD's plans for addressing the limitations. Finally, GAO noted that HUD's 2002 PAR discussed the procedures used to validate and verify performance data.

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