Housing and Urban Development:

Comments on HUD's Fiscal Year 2000 Budget Request

T-RCED-99-104: Published: Mar 3, 1999. Publicly Released: Mar 3, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Department of Housing Urban Development's (HUD) fiscal year (FY) 2000 budget request, focusing on: (1) new initiatives or significant increases proposed by HUD; and (2) observations about HUD's request for funding related to several areas GAO has reported on in the past year.

GAO noted that: (1) to support 19 new programs and initiatives, HUD is requesting nearly $731 million of its $28 billion total request for FY 2000; (2) in each case, Congress did not provide funding for the activity in FY 1999, although in some cases the program has been funded in prior years; (3) GAO is concerned about HUD's overall capacity to plan for, administer, and oversee this many new programs, particularly when HUD itself is undergoing significant organizational reform and when some of the new initiatives are in areas, such as contracting, that HUD's performance has been questioned in the past; (4) one of the most significant increases in HUD's current programs for FY 2000 is a $1 billion increase in its Section 8 rental housing assistance program; (5) however, the budget does not provide sufficient information to evaluate this request; (6) GAO believes a number of associated issues exist that warrant review; (7) HUD's tracking and oversight of its Community Development and Planning grants are made difficult because information in its grants management information system is unreliable; (8) although HUD plans to replace the current system for managing and tracking Community Development Block Grants, a new system is several years away from implementation; (9) in the meantime, HUD's FY 2000 budget request proposes to continue adding set-asides to the block grant; (10) however, HUD cannot be assured that financial tracking of the individual grants and grantees will be adequate; (11) in one of its largest new initiatives, HUD is requesting over $200 million in FY 2000 to fund contract administrators for the contracts it has with owners of multifamily properties in HUD's project-based Section 8 housing assistance program; (12) however, work that GAO, HUD's Inspector General, and the National Academy of Public Administration have done in the past on HUD's contracting activities identified weaknesses in HUD's ability to administer contracts and monitor contractors' performance; (13) however, GAO believes that the success of this program will depend on the adequacy of HUD's contract selection, administration, and oversight of these contracts; (14) HUD is proposing both a new initiative and a program increase in the area of empowerment zones as well as two set-asides in the Community Development Block Grant Program for empowerment zones; and (15) these proposals raise questions about how the programs will coordinate with and benefit from each other because they target similar beneficiaries.

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