The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (T-HUD) held a hearing on March 15 HUD’s Transformation Initiative. In the FY12 proposed budget. The Administration included $120 million for the Transformation Initiative (TI) in its FY12 budget, which would transfer .5% from all HUD accounts into a flexible fund for projects that improve internal workings and offer new resources such as technical assistance.
This fund was launched in FY10 by the Obama Administration and funded at $258 million that year, mostly by redirecting 1% of funding from a long list of HUD programs into the new TI.
In his testimony, HUD Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research Raphael Bostic addressed the importance of the three pillars of the Transformation Initiative: technical assistance, research and demonstrations. Technical assistance provided to state and local governments by HUD will be even more important as communities struggling with budget shortfalls look to stretch federal dollars further. HUD is also focusing on “bringing troubled public housing authorities into recovery” with TI funds.
Mr. Bostic also stressed that during a time of limited funding, evidence of the effectiveness of housing programs is even more critical. Through research, HUD is able to identify the most effective current strategies as well as new methods for providing housing resources that result in savings for taxpayers. Launching demonstrations allows HUD to test new programs to ensure that they “benefit the public in the way Congress intended.”
Estelle Richman of HUD provided testimony on how TI is helping HUD
“break down the silos and streamline the agency’s programs and
operations.” TI is improving HUD’s impacts in a range of programs by
automating portions of voucher administration, increasing capacity of
state and local governments, and modernizing HUD’s information
technology infrastructure. Jerry Williams, in his testimony on HUD’s
information technology improvements, discussed the important
modernization of HUD’s information technology systems funded by TI in
FY10 and FY11. These investments have improved HUD’s management of
programs and allowed the agency to shift its “use of technology to
improve performance and reduce costs.” HUD did not request information
technology funds under TI in FY12 but instead proposed funding this work
through the Working Capital Fund.