Single-Family Housing:

Current Information Systems Do Not Fully Support the Business Processes at HUD's Homeownership Centers

GAO-02-44: Published: Oct 24, 2001. Publicly Released: Oct 24, 2001.

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The Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) homeownership centers use more than 20 different information systems implemented by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) headquarters, including seven major systems, databases developed by the centers, and various different telephone systems. Some of these technologies were implemented before FHA formed the centers and transferred some responsibilities to lenders and contractors. Others were implemented later, to help FHA staff oversee lenders and contractors and provide customer service. Although homeownership center staff have developed specialized databases to help them better meet their responsibilities, neither FHA's single-family information systems nor its telephone systems adequately support the centers' efforts. To better ensure that FHA's single-family information systems support current center operations, HUD is developing a systems blueprint, or enterprise architecture. HUD's Office of the Chief Information Officer plans to finish defining the current capabilities of FHA's information systems by the fall of 2001 and to have partially defined the desired capabilities of all the Department's information systems by January 2002.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: HUD issued an enterprise architecture policy in April 2002. The policy institutes an enterprise architecture practice for HUD designed to align information technology with the Department's mission, and to help achieve more effective capital planning and investments for information technology. The policy also establishes HUD's Technology Investment Board Executive Committee as the Department's enterprise architecture steering committee. The Executive Committee's role is to review all components of HUD's enterprise architecture, as well as to monitor and review information technology projects to ensure conformance with enterprise architecture guidelines and standards.

    Recommendation: To address the information systems challenges facing HUD's homeownership centers, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should direct the Chief Information Officer and Assistant Secretary for Housing-Federal Housing Commissioner to implement the best practices for enterprise architecture management recommended by the Chief Information Officers Council, including forming an enterprise architecture steering committee and formulating an enterprise architecture policy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In June 2003, HUD reported that the Office of Single Family Housing had delayed all sizable single-family systems acquisition or development during fiscal year 2002, and had only one major acquisition planned for fiscal year 2003, Single Family Integration. The objective of this project is to modernize and integrate systems serving Single Family Housing, and to implement the target enterprise architecture, which was completed in fiscal year 2002. The only enhancements being made to legacy systems are for maintenance or to permit critical tasks linked to business process changes that must be implemented. Enhancement funding for the Computerized Homes Underwriting Management System--the core underwriting system for Single Family Housing--was delayed until HUD completed a business process review of single-family underwriting and coordinated the enhancements with the target architecture effort.

    Recommendation: To address the information systems challenges facing HUD's homeownership centers, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should direct the Chief Information Officer and Assistant Secretary for Housing-Federal Housing Commissioner to continue delaying any sizable single-family systems acquisition or development until the Department's enterprise architecture is complete.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In June 2003, HUD reported that it had developed a target enterprise architecture plan for FHA single-family housing insurance programs in fiscal year 2002. An interdisciplinary working group comprised of staff from the Office of Single Family Housing, the FHA Subsidiary Ledger Project Team, the Office of Systems and Technology, and the Office of the Chief Information Officer developed the plan collaboratively. The plan calls for seven consolidated single-family business areas; the Office of Single Family Housing plans to transition from the 40 systems it currently uses to a smaller set of integrated systems that will directly support the seven business categories. According to HUD, all future system investment for the Office of Single Family Housing will be integrated with the enterprise architecture plan. Additionally, the target architecture will accommodate both headquarters and the homeownership centers by integrating the ad hoc systems currently used by the centers.

    Recommendation: To address the information systems challenges facing HUD's homeownership centers, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should direct the Chief Information Officer and Assistant Secretary for Housing-Federal Housing Commissioner to ensure the development of an enterprise architecture that reflects the Office of Single Family Housing's analysis of business processes and data needs at the homeownership centers and provides a framework for the future acquisition of single-family information systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In August 2004, HUD awarded a contract for a Single Family Client Management Center. According to HUD, the contract consolidates 16 fragmented customer service operations nationwide into one operation, using one toll free number. The contractor will respond to and track inquiries received from clients via telephone, fax, and electronic mail. In addition, HUD will have the ability to retrieve reports about its clients and the nature of their calls, which will provide useful information in managing clients and their needs and will help to enhance single family operations and services.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should direct the Assistant Secretary for Housing-Federal Housing Commissioner to implement telephone systems that track the data, such as peak usage periods, that the centers need to manage their customer service workload.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

 

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