Recommendations and Actions
Getting HUD in Order
The reinvention efforts at HUD began almost as soon as Secretary Cisneros arrived. In response to reports prepared by the Inspector General, the General Accounting Office, and Price Waterhouse about serious gaps in basic management and financial systems, the Secretary created task forces to address three of the most prominent management deficiencies identified: data systems, internal controls, and resource management. These task forces are headed by the Deputy Secretary, the Chief Financial Officer, and the Assistant Secretary for Administration, respectively. The mission of these task forces is to ensure the necessary oversight, develop early warning systems, and restore confidence in HUD's accountability.
The Data Systems Task Force has already made progress in two areas. First, it has redirected the Tenant Rental Assistance Certification System to focus on developing Section 8 budget estimates and meeting program needs. Second, the task force is developing a new plan to have a departmentwide administrative accounting system in place by October 1, 1994. The Internal Controls Task Force has developed a plan to redesign the control structure by integrating HUD's control program with the department's program delivery, budget formulation, and execution processes.
Resource management efforts are focusing on short-term staffing needs as well as redesigning processes in the long-term. The Training Task Force is co-chaired by the Deputy Director of Personnel and the president of the local union. The Training Task Force recommended the following actions that are currently being implemented: (1) establish capabilities for distance learning, such as through satellite communications; (2) develop a pilot program making available the same learning to intermediaries; (3) establish a permanent infrastructure in the Office of Training to be connected to a HUD Academy; and (4) increase offerings of hard skills courses, either by HUD or outside groups.
In addition to the work of these task forces on management issues, the Secretary developed five values to establish a mission statement for the department. These values define how HUD seeks to accomplish its mission:
--- a commitment to community,
--- a commitment to support families,
--- a commitment to economic lift,
--- a commitment to strengthen individual rights and responsibilities, and
--- a commitment to reduce spatial separation by race and income.
Rather than hire additional consultants to conduct further review of the department, the Secretary decided to seek input from the department's employees on these values, as well as how the agency could radically change the way it does business. In March 1993, 100 employees, chosen from various offices and positions within the agency, met for the first of several work sessions. At the Secretary's request, some of the nation's top urban experts were also on hand to share their vision of a reinvented HUD.
On March 26, 1993, Vice President Gore attended a subsequent session to evaluate the department's mission, values, and culture, with a focus on redesigning the department to be more mission-oriented and customer-driven. The Vice President helped launch an energizing, bottom-up internal review of the department.
As the next step in that review, from April to May, teams of headquarters staff members held sessions at headquarters and traveled to regional and field offices to conduct agencywide discussions about how to improve HUD. All 13,000 employees were given the opportunity to participate in these sessions. Employees were enthusiastic participants and offered suggestions on topics ranging from consolidation of programs to a request for cross-training. Many employees remained past regular business hours to participate in these discussions and later submitted hundreds of written suggestions.
To obtain the input of constituent groups, similar sessions were held in selected locations throughout the country. These sessions provided a representative sample of the concerns and recommendations of those who work with the department and those served by the department. HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research undertook a departmentwide effort to identify statutory and regulatory barriers to the efficient and effective implementation of the department's programs. Following the internal effort to identify barriers, HUD also used a series of focus groups conducted by teleconference to gather input from constituent groups regarding statutes and regulations perceived to be an impediment to HUD's delivery of services.
Employees have expressed their appreciation for participating in the Reinventing HUD sessions, noting that their direct involvement has given them a chance to share their concerns and ideas as well as to learn more about the agency. The sessions with employees have already improved morale by giving them a voice and providing an opportunity to learn about other aspects of the department. The sessions with constituent groups have also given disparate groups an opportunity to interact with each other and allowed agency personnel to concentrate on ways in which they can all work toward common goals.
In response to employee requests for more information, the Office of Public Affairs has established a way to send a daily HUD message out to the entire agency. Sent via computers, fax machines, and hand delivery, The Focus is disseminated throughout the agency, to the press, and to community groups. The Focus gives a brief synopsis of key events and important issues of the day.
Management Excellence Team and Policy Redesign Project
In response to the National Performance Review and to analyze the volumes of recommendations provided by employees and constituents, the Secretary created two teams. The Management Excellence Team is reviewing issues related to the management infrastructure. This team reports to the Deputy Secretary and the Assistant Secretary for Administration. The Policy Redesign Project is reviewing the content of programs, possible simplification of regulations, and potential need for new legislation. This team reports to the Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research.
A total of 30 career civil servants are currently detailed to these teams on a full-time basis. The team members include managers, bargaining unit employees, and union representatives from field offices and headquarters.
Thousands of suggestions have been reviewed by the two teams. Catalogues of the recommendations that pertain to internal HUD issues have been prepared by the teams. The catalogues include suggestions about working conditions, labor/ management relations, and short- and long-term policy issues. After consultation with union officials, the overwhelming majority of these recommendations will be implemented shortly. Highlights include using forms of participatory decisionmaking, giving field offices more flexibility, and abolishing the sign-in/out system.
Single-family Property Disposition. The single-family Property Disposition Sales Initiative is testing a new approach to selling properties in economically distressed areas to nonprofits and local authorities. HUD-owned homes are being sold to these groups at a discount, which reflects savings to the department from expedited sales. The homes are rehabilitated by nonprofit groups and resold to low- and moderate-income families, many of whom are first-time buyers. The program started at the end of May and continued through August 13 and already has resulted in signed contracts for the sale of more than 170 homes from the agency's Richmond and Chicago inventories, surpassing its goal of selling 100 HUD-held houses. This initiative has accelerated property disposition, helped in the formation of special partnerships between the department and key community groups, and furthered the department's objectives of creating home ownership opportunities and rebuilding communities. The department plans to offer this new sales approach nationwide in fiscal year 1994 after publishing appropriate regulatory changes.
Reinventing Public and Indian Housing's Regional and Field Operation. This results-oriented lab in the Chicago Regional and Illinois field offices is designed to test and evaluate staff performance in servicing and monitoring housing authorities. The lab has already realigned staff roles to eliminate redundancy, improved oversight and technical assistance, and engaged in problem-solving partnerships with housing authorities, resident groups, and community and interest groups.
Community-wide Affirmative Marketing Initiative.
Cook County, Illinois, has been selected to test HUD's Community-wide Affirmative Marketing Initiative. This reinvention lab will put into practice HUD's value to end spatial segregation by race, income, and class. The lab seeks to create greater awareness by the lender, developer, real estate brokers, and other housing industry representatives of their responsibilities under various civil rights laws. For the first time, HUD will work with these groups to publicize and market affirmatively all fair housing assistance available in the community.
D.C. Homeless Initiative.
The department has initiated a creative partnership with the District of Columbia government to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to deliver a continuum of care to end a person's homelessness. HUD will use the D.C. initiative as a laboratory to determine what policy tools and programs are most helpful to local governments in providing needed services to homeless persons. The initiative will bring together federal and local governments, the private sector, the foundation community, nonprofit groups, the homeless, and neighborhoods to review barriers in the establishment of homeless programs, participate in the development of the strategic plan, and play a role in its implementation. The continuum of care to be established will offer a full range of transitional and permanent housing options and supportive services to homeless individuals and families.
Community Partnerships Against Crime.
The public housing authorities in Richmond, Memphis, and New York City were selected to participate in HUD's Community Partnerships Against Crime lab. HUD is working with the housing authorities, other community organizations, and residents to develop creative strategies for the abatement of crime and drug activity. HUD has waived regulations and identified flexible methods to implement new strategies. This team concept leverages resources and provides services previously not available. This successful approach is being recorded by HUD and the local communities for use in a national videoconference to be held in December.
Creating New Partnerships
Over the past six months, HUD has begun to develop strong partnerships with such disparate groups as nonprofit organizations, the private sector, foundations, labor leaders, and others. Three partnerships stand out.
First, HUD received $100 million to support innovative partnerships with private pension funds for the construction and/or reconstruction of low-income housing. The funds will help HUD demonstrate a model for marrying federal assistance with pension fund financing. The AFL- CIO Investment Trusts have expressed particular interest in this partnership.
Second, HUD is seeking $200 million to establish an Innovative Homeless Fund. The Fund will allow HUD to undertake comprehensive initiatives with cities that commit to addressing the full continuum of care from emergency shelter to permanent housing.
Third, HUD is requesting $25 million to invest in the National Community Development Initiative, a successful foundation-driven effort that supports capacity-building for community development corporations.
HUD's goal is to energize the department to carry out the functions for which it was created. HUD will strengthen the department's traditional role of providing a decent, affordable home in a healthy living environment for every American family. HUD will also put the urban development component back into HUD and will create working partnerships with community organizations, local leaders, private business, and governments at all levels.
HUD has indicated that it is committed to revolutionizing the way it does business. While change is already underway, the agency recognizes that radical change requires a long-term effort. The announcement of the NPR recommendations and the measures that the department has taken are only initial steps. With the continued participation of employees and constituents, HUD will ensure it works the way a government agency ought to work and is a partner for community improvement.
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