GAO Issues Additional Priority Recommendations for HUD
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report with priority recommendations to HUD, outlining 17 “priority open” recommendations. These are GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could:
- Save large amounts of money;
- Improve congressional and/or executive branch decision making on major issues;
- Eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or
- Ensure that programs comply with laws and that funds are legally spent, among other benefits.
Since 2015 the GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations. For HUD, in April 2019, the GAO identified nine priority recommendations. Since then, HUD hasn’t closed any of those recommendations.
In April 2020, the GAO identified eight additional priority recommendations for HUD, bringing the total number to 17. These recommendations involve the following areas:
- Addressing Ginnie Mae's risk management and staffing-related challenges.
- Strengthening the monitoring of disaster recovery block grant funds.
- Strengthening processes to address lead paint hazards.
- Enhancing oversight of Moving to Work.
- Improving cybersecurity risk management and workforce planning practices.
- Improving information technology management.
Of all the recommendations, site owners are most likely to see changes in operations if HUD closes and follows through on the GAO’s lead paint hazard oversight recommendations. The GAO has three recommendations that would improve the effectiveness of HUD’s efforts to identify and address lead paint hazards in low-income housing.
In a June 2018 report, the GAO made two recommendations that call for HUD to enhance compliance monitoring and enforcement of lead paint regulations. In November 2019, HUD stated it had developed a draft of procedures for HUD staff to enforce lead paint regulations, but to address the GAO’s recommendations fully, HUD needs to finalize these procedures and develop plans to mitigate risk in its compliance monitoring process.
In addition, HUD’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget justification requested funds to test an alternative lead paint testing method in HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher program. To fully implement the GAO’s recommendation, the report says HUD needs to continue to take steps to analyze potential effects of alternative lead paint testing methods, and use the results to inform its decisions about requesting new authority from Congress.