Information Technology:

HUD Needs to Strengthen Its Capacity to Manage and Modernize Its Environment

GAO-09-675: Published: Jul 31, 2009. Publicly Released: Jul 31, 2009.

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Information technology (IT) plays a critical role in the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) ability to carry out its home ownership and community development mission, which was recently expanded under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. Pursuant to a congressional mandate to study HUD's IT environment, GAO reviewed the adequacy of key IT management and modernization controls within the department, including strategic planning and performance measurement, investment management, human capital management, enterprise architecture development and use, and modernization program office establishment. To do so, GAO compared HUD policies, guidance, plans, reports, and other products and actions to relevant aspects of statutory requirements, federal guidance, and related best practices.

The department has to varying degrees established key IT management and modernization controls needed to help ensure that its existing IT environment adequately supports mission operations and that its efforts to modernize this environment are successful. However, these controls have not been fully implemented either in accordance with a statutory requirement, federal guidance, or related best practices. Specifically, HUD has (1) developed an IT strategic plan, with strategic goals and related activities and performance targets, but it has not assessed its IT performance since fiscal year 2007, and its assessment at that time showed performance shortfalls. For example, it reported that it was behind schedule or not making progress on about one-half of the activities needed to achieve its IT strategic goals. (2) established policies and procedures for creating portfolios of IT investments, but it lacks related practices to effectively control them. For example, criteria to evaluate the performance of its portfolio do not exist. (3) analyzed gaps in its IT workforce and developed a strategy for addressing them, but the analysis was based on an incomplete and outdated inventory of human capital skill levels, thus rendering its strategy unreliable. (4) established an enterprise architecture program--to connect strategic plans with individual programs and system solutions--that meets key aspects of related best practices, but its efforts to extend its architecture by adding the level of detail needed to implement modernization projects, referred to as segment architectures, are not sufficient. For example, while HUD has identified and prioritized segments to be modernized, it has not adhered to these priorities, and the segments developed do not reflect important elements of federal guidance, and most are out of date. (5) identified the need for a modernization program office with the responsibility for managing its modernization efforts but has not established this office. Department officials acknowledged these shortcomings and stated that efforts to address them have been constrained by such factors as turnover in IT leadership and, until recently, limited modernization resources and initiatives. Until it strengthens these IT management controls, the performance of its existing IT environment and the success of its recent and future efforts to modernize this environment will be at risk.

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: In order to ensure that HUD has an IT environment that effectively and efficiently supports its mission operations, the Secretary of HUD should ensure that recent and anticipated increases in IT resources be allocated to strengthening each of the IT management controls discussed in this report. To these ends, the Secretary should Direct the Deputy Secretary, as the TIBEC chairperson, to (a) report to the Secretary on actions planned to address our prior enterprise architecture (EA) recommendations on defining a security architecture and performing independent verification and validation, and (b) develop a plan for reexamining segment priorities and updating and developing segment architectures in accordance with these priorities and relevant guidance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: HUD agreed with and took actions toward addressing our recommendation. In this regard, HUD reexamined the department's enterprise architecture segments, and subsequently, developed a plan to redefine the enterprise architecture segments in accordance with department priorities and relevant guidance. As a result of this action, HUD should be better positioned to more effectively develop segment architectures in accordance with department priorities.

    Recommendation: In order to ensure that HUD has an IT environment that effectively and efficiently supports its mission operations, the Secretary of HUD should ensure that recent and anticipated increases in IT resources be allocated to strengthening each of the IT management controls discussed in this report. To these ends, the Secretary should direct the CIO to establish and execute IT human capital gap closure strategies that are based on a complete and current inventory of its existing IT workforce skills.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In 2011, we verified that HUD had made progress toward establishing and executing strategies to address IT workforce gaps. Specifically, in September 2011, the department completed an assessment of existing workforce skills, including a review of how IT resources support the goals in HUD's 2011-2015 strategic plan. In January 2013, the department finalized an IT human capital plan, which included strategies for closing gaps in its IT workforce.

    Recommendation: In order to ensure that HUD has an IT environment that effectively and efficiently supports its mission operations, the Secretary of HUD should ensure that recent and anticipated increases in IT resources be allocated to strengthening each of the IT management controls discussed in this report. To these ends, the Secretary should direct the Deputy Secretary, as the Technology Investment Board Executive Committee (TIBEC) chairperson, to develop and implement a plan to address the IT portfolio investment management weaknesses that we identified. This plan should address the following: (a) instituting policies and procedures for reviewing, evaluating, and improving the performance of the department's portfolio of investments; (b) establishing resources for reviewing the investment portfolio, including people, funding, and tools and ensuring board members are familiar with the process for evaluating and improving portfolio performance; (c) developing criteria for assessing portfolio performance and reviewing and modifying them at regular intervals to reflect current performance expectations; (d) defining and collecting IT portfolio performance measurement data consistent with the portfolio performance criteria; and (e) executing adjustments to the IT investment portfolio in response to actual portfolio performance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: HUD agreed with and took actions that addressed this recommendation. Specifically, in January 2013, the department provided a plan for implementing practices to control the performance of its IT investment portfolio. The plan contained information that addressed key IT portfolio investment management weaknesses that we identified. For example, the plan addressed instituting policies and procedures for reviewing, evaluating, and improving the performance of the department's portfolio of investments as well as establishing resources for reviewing the investment portfolio. Additionally, the plan included activities for developing criteria to assess portfolio performance and for defining and collecting data consistent with the criteria.

    Recommendation: In order to ensure that HUD has an IT environment that effectively and efficiently supports its mission operations, the Secretary of HUD should ensure that recent and anticipated increases in IT resources be allocated to strengthening each of the IT management controls discussed in this report. To these ends, the Secretary should direct the Chief Information Officer (CIO) to develop a plan for developing and implementing the department's new performance management framework, including an implementation schedule of key activities and related resource needs, and to ensure that this plan provides for complying with the statutory requirement for annual reporting of progress in achieving IT strategic goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: HUD agreed with and took actions toward addressing our recommendation. In this regard, the department developed a new departmentwide strategic plan with associated goals in May 2010, using a newly established performance management framework and planning documents that included a schedule of key activities and related resource needs. In addition, HUD's Office of the Chief Information Officer outlined specific measures for achieving the goals contained within the new departmentwide strategic plan, such as reducing the number of burdensome regulations and reports. The actions taken should help HUD improve its ability to measure and report progress in achieving IT strategic goals.

    Recommendation: In order to ensure that HUD has an IT environment that effectively and efficiently supports its mission operations, the Secretary of HUD should ensure that recent and anticipated increases in IT resources be allocated to strengthening each of the IT management controls discussed in this report. To these ends, the Secretary should direct the CIO to direct the CIO to establish an enterprisewide program office with the responsibility and authority for managing the department's modernization efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: HUD agreed with and took actions toward addressing our recommendation. In this regard, the department established an enterprise wide program office in 2010 with the responsibility and authority for managing the department's modernization efforts. For example, the program office was given responsibility for identifying and prioritizing modernization projects and authority to build project management competencies. As a result, HUD should be better positioned to more effectively deliver modernized systems.

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