Public Housing:

HUD Needs Better Information on Housing Agencies' Management Performance

GAO-01-94: Published: Nov 9, 2000. Publicly Released: Nov 20, 2000.

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To improve its oversight of housing agencies, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) implemented its Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS). PHAS provides HUD with a system to measure the performance of its housing agencies. GAO found that the effectiveness of HUD's ability to measure housing agencies' performance under PHAS has not been greatly improved for several reasons. First, HUD does not verify the accuracy of self-certified data submitted by the agencies in response to PHAS requirements. According to GAO's survey, in several instances, agencies that certified themselves as "standard" or "high performers" were later found to be troubled. Second, HUD's field offices indicated that they are adequately prepared in some areas to assist troubled housing agencies but that in other areas, such as adequate staffing, they are not. Furthermore, HUD's experience indicated that although the use of sanctions against poor performing agencies can be an effective tool for improving performance, most of its field offices fail to use them.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In fiscal year 2001, HUD began conducting on-site reviews at up to 600 housing agencies (out of a universe of over 3000) to verify management operations data. These reviews included a mix of agencies that scored high on PHAS and those that had average or low scores. HUD has continued the on-site reviews during fiscal year 2002, and will again use them in its fiscal year 2003 monitoring efforts.

    Recommendation: To better ensure that HUD is accurately measuring the performance of all housing agencies so that it can reward high performers and hold accountable troubled and substandard agencies, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should develop and implement a cost-effective approach for HUD's field offices to verify housing agencies' management operations for accuracy and completeness.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to GAO's recommendation, in fiscal year 2001, HUD began conducting on-site reviews at up to 600 housing agencies (out of a universe of over 3000) to verify management operations data. These reviews included a mix of agencies that scored high on PHAS and those that had average or low scores. HUD has continued the on-site reviews during fiscal year 2002, and will again use them in its fiscal year 2003 monitoring efforts. HUD subsequently awarded the first performance bonuses from its fiscal year 2002 Capital Fund budget, doing so in part, on the basis of the PHAS scores it verified in the on-site reviews. HUD has continued the on-site reviews during fiscal year 2002, and will again consider them as part of the fiscal year 2003 Capital Fund bonuses.

    Recommendation: To better ensure that HUD is accurately measuring the performance of all housing agencies so that it can reward high performers and hold accountable troubled and substandard agencies, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should ensure that HUD uses adequately verified housing agency performance information as the basis for: (1) the Capital Fund performance bonuses and; (2) bonus points on applications for competitive grants.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

 

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