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    Results:

    Subject Term: Foreclosures

    9 publications with a total of 18 open recommendations including 2 priority recommendations
    Director: Lawrance L. Evans, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To reduce uncertainty and provide FHFA sufficient direction for carrying out its responsibilities as conservator of the enterprises, Congress should consider legislation that establishes objectives for the future federal role in housing finance, including the structure of the enterprises, and a transition plan to a reformed housing finance system that enables the enterprises to exit conservatorship.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 13, 2017, Congress has not taken action on this matter. In its 2017 Oversight Plan, the House Financial Services Committee stated that "the Committee will examine proposals affecting the operations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, including consolidating their business operations, winding down their legacy business commitments, and repealing their statutory charters."
    Director: Lawrance L. Evans Jr.,
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that FHFA has adequate authority to ensure the safety and soundness of the enterprises and to clarify its supervisory role, Congress should consider granting FHFA explicit authority to examine third parties that do business with and play a critical role in the operations of the enterprises.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, Congress has not taken any action on this matter.
    Director: Garcia-diaz, Daniel
    Phone: (202) 512-4529

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To better ensure that taxpayer funds are being used effectively, Congress should consider permanently rescinding any Treasury-deobligated excess MHA balances that Treasury does not move into the Hardest Hit Fund.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has not taken any action since Treasury has not deobligated MHA program funds beyond the $2 billion that it transferred to the TARP-funded Hardest Hit Fund.
    Recommendation: To provide Congress and others with accurate assessments of the funding that has been and will likely be used to help troubled borrowers and to identify any potential obligations not likely to be used, the Secretary of the Treasury should deobligate funds that its review shows will likely not be expended and obligate up to $2 billion of such funds to the TARP-funded Hardest Hit Fund as authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Treasury agreed with the recommendation and deobligated $2 billion as of February 2016 based on its updated MHA program cost estimates and indicated that it plans to commit this $2 billion to the Hardest Hit Fund program, as recommended by GAO. However, Treasury has not deobligated an additional $2.7 billion in potential excess program funds identified by the cost estimate. Treasury has stated that it does not expect to deobligate any estimated excess funds from the MHA program prior to December 2017, when servicers report data on all final transactions. We maintain that Treasury should deobligate additional excess MHA funds that its review showed will likely not be expended and further update its cost estimates as additional information becomes available.
    Director: Mathew Scirè
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve monitoring and oversight of Treasury's HAMP, the Secretary of the Treasury should conduct periodic evaluations using analytical methods, such as econometric modeling as appropriate, to help explain differences among MHA servicers in redefault rates that may inform its compliance reviews of individual servicers, identify areas of weaknesses and best practices, and determine the potential need for additional program policy changes.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: Treasury put together a list of servicers with reporting anomalies that had been identified and sent them questionnaires asking them to explain the rationale behind using certain codes to report denials (denial codes) of applications for trial modifications. Treasury expects to have answers back by October 2015. Treasury's compliance agent has also added procedures for testing denial codes that servicers report. Although these are examples of analysis of overall denial rates, Treasury's actions do not address differences in individual MHA servicers' reasons for denial. Additionally, it is not clear whether Treasury plans to conduct periodic evaluations of differences in denial rates or how Treasury will use the information it gathers to identify areas of weaknesses and best practices and determine whether additional policy changes are needed. Thus, we continue to maintain that Treasury should take action to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Lawrance L. Evans, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that foreclosure prevention principles are being incorporated into servicers' practices, the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System should ensure that the planned activities to oversee the foreclosure prevention principles include evaluation and testing of servicers' implementation of the principles.

    Agency: Federal Reserve System: Board of Governors
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2016, Federal Reserve staff indicated that examiners are continuing to review servicers' efforts to incorporate the foreclosure prevention principles into their practices. Our assessment of the extent to which those reviews include evaluation and testing of servicers' implementation of the principles is pending additional discussions with the Federal Reserve.
    Director: Scire, Mathew J
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    5 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: In order to better ensure that servicers are effectively implementing the agency's loss mitigation programs and that distressed borrowers are receiving the assistance they need as early as possible before they become seriously delinquent, the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture should require servicers to report information about their efforts to reach distressed borrowers. For example, servicers could report on their efforts to reach borrowers and whether borrowers have responded to outreach from the servicer regarding early delinquency interventions and are receiving informal foreclosure mitigation actions.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60-day response letter, USDA noted that currently, its Rural Housing Service (RHS) guaranteed loan servicers are required to perform outreach and early delinquency intervention and informal mitigation actions within agency-prescribed timeframes. Also, each servicer is required to maintain automated records of these contacts and attempted contacts. According to USDA. RHS will utilize both internal and external means to analyze data obtained periodically through loan servicers. Loan level data outlining foreclosure prevention efforts such as borrower contact, loss mitigation actions attempted, loss mitigation actions implemented, and failed loss mitigation actions will be assessed in order to better evaluate the effectiveness of RHS'foreclosure prevention guidance. Data will be collected from loan servicers via monthly reporting in conjunction with data obtained through compliance reviews conducted by RHS and its program compliance agent. Utilizing these compliance reviews, USDA stated that RHS will perform a management review of the results and will provide feedback to the servicers to increase compliance. In a September 2013 status update, USDA stated that it was developing manual processes that will provide clarity with respect to lender loss mitigation performance as recommended by GAO. USDA currently captures limited loss mitigation data that yields performance results, assisting the program in its efforts to mitigate risk. These manual processes will remain in effect until USDA has completed the build-out of the enhanced electronic data reporting requirements of lenders that participate in the program. In addition, USDA noted that it was finalizing a memorandum of understanding with Ginnie Mae to gain access to their program default data that will provide insight into the loss mitigation retention workout performance of 502 Guaranteed borrowers. This data, which will help evaluate the effectiveness of loss mitigation efforts on both borrower outcome and agency cost bases, will be gathered with the assistance of the consulting team now supporting lender compliance.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of USDA should determine the extent to which distressed borrowers have not been reached and assess whether changes are needed to help ensure servicers are complying with USDA's loss mitigation requirements.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60-day response letter, USDA stated that it supported GAO's recommendation to require servicers to report their efforts to reach distressed borrowers and report, on a portfolio level, the extent to which servicers are complying with USDA's loss mitigation requirements. USDA also stated that data will be collected from loan servicers via monthly reporting in conjunction with data obtained through compliance reviews conducted by it Rural Housing Service (RHS) and its program compliance agent. Utilizing these compliance reviews, RHS will perform a management review of the results and will provide feedback to the servicers to increase compliance. In a September 2013 status update, USDA stated that it was developing manual processes that will provide clarity with respect to lender loss mitigation performance as recommended by GAO. USDA currently captures limited loss mitigation data that yields performance results, assisting the program in its efforts to mitigate risk. These manual processes will remain in effect until USDA has completed the build-out of the enhanced electronic data reporting requirements of lenders that participate in the program. In addition, USDA noted that it was finalizing a memorandum of understanding with Ginnie Mae to gain access to their program default data that will provide insight into the loss mitigation retention workout performance of 502 Guaranteed borrowers. This data, which will help evaluate the effectiveness of loss mitigation efforts on both borrower outcome and agency cost bases, will be gathered with the assistance of the consulting team now supporting lender compliance.
    Recommendation: To more fully understand the strengths and risks posed by foreclosure mitigation actions and protect taxpayers from absorbing avoidable losses to the maximum extent possible, the FHA, VA, and USDA should conduct periodic analyses of the effectiveness and the long-term costs and benefits of their loss mitigation strategies and actions. These analyses should consider (1) the redefault rates associated with each type of home retention action and (2) the impact that loan and borrower characteristics have on the performance of different home retention actions. The agencies should use the results from these analyses to reevaluate their loss mitigation approach and provide additional guidance to servicers to effectively target foreclosure mitigation actions. If FHA, VA, and USDA do not maintain data needed to consider this information, they should require services to provide them.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development: Federal Housing Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: FHA agreed with this recommendation. In November 2012, FHA revised the types of mitigation actions and manner in which the actions are offered. FHA officials have begun to evaluate the effectiveness of these changes. Specifically, FHA is analyzing the redefault and failure rates associated with its various loss mitigation options. HUD contracted with the Urban Institute to conduct a comprehensive study of FHA's loss mitigation program which was completed in December 2016. To fully implement this recommendation, FHA needs to use the results of a HUD-commissioned 2016 Urban Institute study of FHA's loss mitigation program and internal evaluation of early interaction with delinquent borrowers to reevaluate its loss mitigation approach and, as appropriate, provide guidance to mortgage servicers to effectively target foreclosure mitigation actions.
    Recommendation: To more fully understand the strengths and risks posed by foreclosure mitigation actions and protect taxpayers from absorbing avoidable losses to the maximum extent possible, the FHA, VA, and USDA should conduct periodic analyses of the effectiveness and the long-term costs and benefits of their loss mitigation strategies and actions. These analyses should consider (1) the redefault rates associated with each type of home retention action and (2) the impact that loan and borrower characteristics have on the performance of different home retention actions. The agencies should use the results from these analyses to reevaluate their loss mitigation approach and provide additional guidance to servicers to effectively target foreclosure mitigation actions. If FHA, VA, and USDA do not maintain data needed to consider this information, they should require services to provide them.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA agreed with this recommendation but has not yet fully implemented it. Specifically, VA plans to collect and analyze data on redefault rates and determine how those results could inform its loss mitigation approach and guidance to servicers. In August 2016, VA told GAO that it had configured a server to process program data and was in the process of procuring statistical analytic software to conduct analyses. After VA procures the software, it plans to process data files, develop the analytical framework for identifying redefault rates of modified loans, and validate and run the models. VA's target completion date to report preliminary results is mid-2017.
    Recommendation: To more fully understand the strengths and risks posed by foreclosure mitigation actions and protect taxpayers from absorbing avoidable losses to the maximum extent possible, the FHA, VA, and USDA should conduct periodic analyses of the effectiveness and the long-term costs and benefits of their loss mitigation strategies and actions. These analyses should consider (1) the redefault rates associated with each type of home retention action and (2) the impact that loan and borrower characteristics have on the performance of different home retention actions. The agencies should use the results from these analyses to reevaluate their loss mitigation approach and provide additional guidance to servicers to effectively target foreclosure mitigation actions. If FHA, VA, and USDA do not maintain data needed to consider this information, they should require services to provide them.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: USDA agreed with this recommendation but has not yet fully implemented it. Specifically, USDA indicated that it plans to conduct periodic analyses of the effectiveness and long-term costs and benefits of its loss mitigation strategies and actions. USDA representatives stated that it had allocated funding to build monthly data gathering and analysis capability. USDA representatives also told GAO that the agency completed the basic development and internal testing of the new software in December 2015 and began testing and implementing the software with lenders in September 2016. USDA representatives have identified April 2018 as their tentative implementation date.
    Director: Scire, Mathew J
    Phone: (202)512-6794

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen accountability and transparency in FHA's management of the Fund, Congress may wish to consider clarifying (1) the definition of the Fund's capital ratio--specifically, whether the denominator of the ratio was intended to be the amortized insurance-in-force; (2) the definition of the phrase "established target subsidy rate" used in HERA; and (3) the nature and extent of information that FHA should be reporting on subsidy rates pursuant to HERA, recognizing that subsidy rates are generally only reestimated once a year under current budget processes.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, Congress has not acted on this matter for consideration.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202)512-5594

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance IRS's ability to detect noncompliance with mortgage debt forgiveness provisions, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should modify Form 982, Part 1 to segregate the total dollar amount of forgiven debt by exclusion type and capture the information in IRS's databases.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, IRS has not yet revised the Form 982 consistent with our recommendation. Form 982 directs taxpayers to identify the type(s) of forgiven debt. For example, taxpayers check a box to indicate forgiven mortgage debt used to buy, build, or substantially improve a principal residence. However, the Form 982 is used to report other types of forgiven debt, such as debt related to real property used in a trade or business, and the form does not require taxpayers to report the dollar amounts for each exclusion type. This means that IRS does not necessarily know how much of the forgiven debt should be attributed to a taxpayer's principal residence. Section 151 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113) extended the exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt to debt discharged before January 1, 2017. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the cost of this extension will be more than $5.1 billion for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 making it important for IRS to have more specific information from taxpayers concerning the amount of forgiven debt attributable to a taxpayer's principal residence.
    Recommendation: To enhance IRS's ability to detect noncompliance with mortgage debt forgiveness provisions, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should modify the Form 982 and Form 1099-C so that filers disclose the address of the secured property for which the debt is being forgiven and capture the information in IRS's databases.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: While IRS has not revised the Forms 982 and 1099-C consistent with our recommendation, Congress directed IRS to collect additional information concerning mortgage interest payments, which prompted IRS to revise a related form. Congress in July 2015 enacted the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act (Public Law 114-41). Section 2003 of the act requires taxpayers receiving mortgage interest payments to report the origination date of the mortgage, the amount of outstanding principal at the beginning of the calendar year, and the property's address. This new reporting requirement applies to returns that would be filed in 2017. In response to the legislation, IRS updated Form 1098 Mortgage Interest Statement. While IRS officials have told us that they believe the new data to be collected on this form have the potential to be helpful, they will not know the extent of any benefits from this new reporting requirement for several years. As of March 2017, IRS had not yet revised two other forms to the extent we recommended--the Forms 982 and 1099-C--to collect specific information from taxpayers and lenders concerning the amount of forgiven debt attributable to a principal residence and the location of the taxpayer's principal residence. Specifically, Form 982 does not direct taxpayers to identify the address for which debt is being forgiven nor does Form 1099-C direct lenders to report the address. Section 151 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113) extended the exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt to debt discharged before January 1, 2017. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the cost of this extension will be more than $5.1 billion for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, making it important for IRS to have more specific information concerning the address of the properties for which debt is being forgiven.
    Recommendation: To enhance IRS's ability to detect noncompliance with mortgage debt forgiveness provisions, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should use the additional data reported on the revised Form 982 and Form 1099-C to assess the extent to which taxpayers are compliant.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: While IRS has not fully revised the Forms 982 and 1099-C consistent with our recommendation, Congress directed IRS to collect additional information concerning mortgage interest payments which prompted IRS to revise a related form, and IRS officials are considering how to use the additional data. As of March 2017, the Form 982 does not direct taxpayers to identify the address for which debt is being forgiven. For the Form 1099-C, IRS began requiring lenders to provide more information about the type of event that resulted in the cancellation of the debt. However, as of March 2017, the Form 1099-C does not direct lenders to report the address of the property for which mortgage debt is being forgiven. In July 2015, Congress enacted the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act (Public Law 114-41). Section 2003 of the act requires taxpayers receiving mortgage interest payments to report the origination date of the mortgage, the amount of outstanding principal at the beginning of the calendar year, and the property's address. This new reporting requirement applies to returns that would be filed in 2017. In response to the legislation, IRS updated Form 1098 Mortgage Interest Statement for the 2017 filing season. While IRS officials told us that they believe the new data to be collected on this form have the potential to be helpful, they will not know the extent of any benefits from this new reporting requirement for several years. Section 151 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113) extended the exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt to debt discharged before January 1, 2017. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the cost of this extension will be more than $5.1 billion for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, making it important for IRS to use the additional data we recommended they collect in enforcement efforts.
    Director: Shames, Lisa R
    Phone: (202)512-9692

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help address problems related to FSA foreclosures, the Secretary of Agriculture should develop and promulgate a policy statement that lays out the factors USDA considers in issuing stays of foreclosure in class action lawsuits.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested documentation from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights that would demonstrate this recommendation has been implemented.
    Recommendation: To help address problems related to FSA foreclosures, the Secretary of Agriculture should maintain historic information, by race, on foreclosures completed by FSA.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested documentation from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights that would demonstrate this recommendation has been implemented.
    Recommendation: To help address problems related to FSA foreclosures, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct FSA and OCR to improve communications to ensure that foreclosure actions are not taken against borrowers with pending complaints.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested documentation from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights that would demonstrate this recommendation has been implemented.