The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on September 15 that examines fragmentation and overlap of rental assistance programs on the federal, state, and local levels, the extent of intergovernmental collaboration, and the need for more reporting on the collective performance of these programs.
The GAO partnered with a group of state and local audit offices in Washington, Oregon and Colorado to conduct the research. The participating offices compiled inventories of rental assistance programs that serve low income households, collected data on key elements of the programs, and identified performance and collaboration information. The GAO concluded that overlap and fragmentation found in these 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. The GAO states, however, that more needs to be done. “We recommended that to further improve HUD, USDA, and Treasury’s efforts through the RPWG to consolidate and align certain requirements in multifamily housing programs, the RPWG should take steps to document collaborative efforts in strategic and annual plans to help reinforce agency accountability for these efforts.”
Reporting on collaborative performance by agencies is incomplete. According to the report, “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 should, in consultation with RPWG, work with states and local governments to develop a pilot program for gathering and reporting on the collective performance of federal, state and local rental assistance programs.
Read the GAO report here: http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/672494.pdf