HUD OIG Launches Integrity and Compliance Program
HUD launched a new ethics program that will support whistleblower, ombudsman, and hotline initiatives. Part of HUD’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the Integrity & Compliance Program (ICP) aims to create a “principled organizational culture,” Inspector General David Montoya said in a recent press release.
In February, Montoya testified before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations that some senior officials at HUD violated federal law and obstructed investigators’ efforts to uncover wrongdoing. Witnesses offered testimony to the subcommittee that senior HUD employees violated federal employment law practices as well as HUD policies by hiring a former registered lobbyist for a position with HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing. Witnesses also said this former lobbyist misused her position with HUD to further an agenda favorable to her former employer’s public housing groups and also by hiring two HUD employees without proper vetting.
The HUD Inspector General found that the former lobbyist obstructed the investigation of these actions by “providing false statements to investigators” and denying key HUD officials access to pre-employment email communications. Witnesses testified that the two employees were “less than forthcoming” regarding their hiring and both had stated they were never interviewed prior to being hired.
Through the ICP, the inspector general hopes to spark a culture change in HUD, promoting ethical behavior beyond the enforcement of financial disclosure requirements and compliance to conflict-of-interest regulations.
“By implementing an integrity program that emphasizes our office’s shared core values, we look to support our employees as they make tough decisions in their daily activities,” said Montoya. “We also want to provide them guidance so they are prepared for instances when ethical dilemmas arise. As evidenced by recent events of misconduct in Executive branch departments and agencies, we recognize that a single act of misconduct can jeopardize an organization’s mission. I believe federal agencies should do more to incorporate a strong values-based ethics program that goes beyond the government’s current focus of ethics. It will allow us to employ a principled organizational culture and use our values, policies and principles to guide every decision we make and every action we take.”
To implement the new ethics program, HUD OIG will partner with the Ethics Research Center (ERC), the research arm of the Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI), on this effort. ERC is America’s oldest nonprofit organization devoted to independent research to advance high ethical standards and practices in public and private institutions. ERC will be reviewing HUD OIG’s current programs and soliciting input from leaders and employees about how they live their values and the challenges they face, and helping coordinate this data into the creation of a values-based ethics program for HUD OIG.