GAO: Information on Collective Performance of Rental Assistance Programs Incomplete
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report that examines fragmentation and overlap of rental assistance programs on the federal, state, and local levels. The GAO partnered with 25 state and local audit offices to design an audit plan that six participating audit offices conducted on rental assistance to low-income households. The GAO assessed the completed results, reviewed documentation, and interviewed officials from HUD, Treasury, and the IRS.
The GAO concluded that overlap and fragmentation found in rental assistance programs “could lead to less efficient delivery of affordable rental housing financing.” According to the report, the 2010 creation of the Rental Policy Working Group (RPWG)—which is composed of members from HUD, Treasury, USDA, and the White House Domestic Policy Council—improved interagency collaboration. But the GAO recommends further consolidation and alignment of certain requirements in the multifamily housing programs.
According to the GAO, reporting on collaborative performance by agencies is incomplete:
HUD, Treasury, and IRS officials that are part of the Rental Policy Working Group stated that there is no information on the collective performance of the federal, state, and local jurisdictions that provide rental assistance. Thus it is not known to what extent and how well the local, state, and federal rental assistance programs work collectively, for example, to increase the number of households served. We recognize it is difficult to identify relevant federal, state, and local programs, collect performance information from multiple levels of government, and synthesize the information to reflect the collective performance. However, without information on the government-wide performance of rental assistance, the Congress, decision makers, and stakeholders at all levels of government are hampered in their ability to identify agencies and programs addressing similar missions. They are also hampered in the ability to set priorities, allocate resources, and restructure federal efforts, as needed, to achieve long-term goals.
The GAO recommends that HUD, in consultation with the RPWG, work with states and localities to develop an approach for compiling and reporting on the collective performance of federal, state, and local rental assistance programs. HUD disagreed with the recommendation as originally drafted because it didn’t believe that it was addressed to the appropriate party. GAO agreed and modified the recommendation to direct it to HUD, in consultation with the RPWG. Treasury and the IRS didn’t comment on the recommendation.