Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Actions Needed to Incorporate Key Practices into Management Functions and Program Oversight

GAO-16-497: Published: Jul 20, 2016. Publicly Released: Aug 19, 2016.

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What GAO Found

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has struggled to resolve persistent management challenges, in part because it has not consistently incorporated requirements and key practices identified by GAO to help ensure effective management into its operations. In addition, HUD's past remedial actions were not always effective because they were not sustained. Turnover among senior leadership, shifting priorities, and resource constraints have contributed to HUD's difficulties in implementing needed changes. As a result, GAO and others continue to find deficiencies in numerous aspects of HUD's operations. Sustained focus on integrating requirements and key practices into agency management could enhance HUD's ability to more effectively accomplish its mission.

HUD has not fully met some requirements or implemented a number of key practices for its management functions, including performance planning and reporting and information technology (IT), human capital, financial, and acquisition management. In particular, some HUD plans for executing critical management functions are missing key elements, as described below. HUD also has not always maintained current and complete policies and procedures, an important component of agency governance. These challenges stem partly from a lack of controls to help ensure timely updates of plans, policies, and procedures.

Extent to Which the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Met Requirements or Was Following Key Practices for Management Functions

Why GAO Did This Study

Through its $48 billion fiscal year 2016 budget, HUD administers a wide variety of programs that help millions of households obtain safe, decent, and affordable housing and that seek to build and strengthen communities. However, GAO and HUD's Office of Inspector General have identified management deficiencies that limit the effectiveness and efficiency of HUD's operations. For example, the Inspector General cited human capital management, financial management systems, and information security among the major management challenges facing HUD in fiscal year 2016 and beyond. GAO was asked to review HUD's management practices.

This report examines HUD's efforts to (1) meet requirements and implement key practices for management functions, including financial, human capital, acquisition, and IT management; and (2) oversee and evaluate programs. GAO reviewed HUD policies and compared them with federal requirements, key practices, and internal control standards. GAO also interviewed HUD officials and industry stakeholders.

What GAO Recommends

GAO makes eight new recommendations designed to improve HUD’s strategic and human capital planning, governance, and program oversight and evaluation. HUD concurred with our recommendations. GAO also maintains that 63 recommendations it made in prior work should be fully implemented to help improve aspects of HUD management.

For more information, contact Daniel Garcia-Diaz at (202) 512-8678 or garciadiazd@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information

    Recommendation: In order to more fully implement key practices and meet requirements and to better institutionalize standards and practices, the Secretary of HUD should clearly link HUD's strategic goals and objectives with federal priority goals in the next annual performance plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information

    Recommendation: In order to more fully implement key practices and meet requirements and to better institutionalize standards and practices, the Secretary of HUD should describe the reasons that goals were not met and HUD's plans for achieving them in the next annual performance report.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In August 2016, HUD's Office of Strategic Planning and Management (OSPM) and Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations (CIR) entered into a memorandum of understanding setting forth responsibilities for consulting with Congress on the development of HUD's strategic plan and annual performance plan and report (performance documents). CIR is to organize meetings with congressional staff, convey the results to OSPM, and offer official concurrence on the final publication of the performance documents. Concurrent with the release of the President's budget, OSPM is to share the completed performance documents with CIR, which has responsibility for distributing them to Congress. A February 2017 update to the memorandum of understanding states that consultations with Congress on the strategic plan are to take place before the first full draft is submitted to the Office of Management and Budget and that HUD will consult with Congress at least once every fiscal year on the performance documents.

    Recommendation: In order to more fully implement key practices and meet requirements and to better institutionalize standards and practices, the Secretary of HUD should establish procedures and time frames for conducting outreach with Congress and stakeholders to help ensure that the strategic plan meets statutory requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  4. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information

    Recommendation: In order to more fully implement key practices and meet requirements and to better institutionalize standards and practices, the Secretary of HUD should establish a process and schedule for regularly reviewing, revising, and updating HUD's human capital strategic plan, strategic workforce plan, and succession plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  5. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information

    Recommendation: In order to more fully implement key practices and meet requirements and to better institutionalize standards and practices, the Secretary of HUD should establish a process and schedule for reviewing and updating policies and procedures to help ensure that policies and procedures for key management functions remain current and complete.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  6. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information

    Recommendation: In order to more fully implement key practices and meet requirements and to better institutionalize standards and practices, the Secretary of HUD should formalize lines of communication between the Chief Information Officer and the agency head, consistent with OMB guidance and internal control standards.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On March 16, 2017, HUD's Acting Deputy Secretary designated the Office of Strategic Planning and Management (OSPM) as the entity with agency-wide responsibilities for overseeing fraud risk activities. She also formally appointed the Chief Risk Officer within OSPM as the departmental lead for fraud risk management. She instructed the Chief Risk Officer to develop an implementation plan for managing fraud risk as part of the department's Enterprise Risk Management program. HUD's goal is to produce a draft plan for comment by June 2017.

    Recommendation: In order to more fully implement key practices and meet requirements and to better institutionalize standards and practices, the Secretary of HUD should designate entities within the program offices or an entity with agency-wide responsibilities for overseeing fraud risk management activities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In December 2016, HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) published a Program Evaluation Policy in the Federal Register. The Program Evaluation Policy articulates the core principles and practices that PD&R uses to help ensure high-quality and consistent evaluation results. These principles and practices include rigor, relevance, transparency, and independence. The Program Evaluation Policy applies to all PD&R-sponsored evaluations and economic analyses of regulations, as well as to the selection of projects, contractors, and PD&R staff involved in evaluations.

    Recommendation: In order to more fully implement key practices and meet requirements and to better institutionalize standards and practices, the Secretary of HUD should develop written policies for conducting program evaluations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

 

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