HUD No. 06-112
September 14, 2006
HUD WINS GOVERNMENT COMPUTER NEWS AWARD FOR INNOVATIVE "IT" USAGE
Rental integrity system protects government funds to assist more families
WASHINGTON - The Department of Housing and Urban Development is among the 10 government agencies that earned a 2006 Government Computer News Gala Award for its innovative use of information technology. The Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) received the honor for developing a system that is used to reduce improper payments in HUD's rental assistance programs .
"Our staff set an aggressive goal to reduce improper payments and the result is a system that protects precious government resources," said Assistant Secretary Orlando Cabrera, who heads up HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing. "We are pleased to get the award, but our real pride lies in knowing federal dollars that might have otherwise been paid in error will be used to help more low-income families with affordable housing."
PIH's Office of Public Housing Programs edged out nearly 150 entries to earn the award for developing and implementing the Enterprise Income Verification System (EIV). Nicole Faison and David Sandler headed the team during implementation in 2003 and 2005 of this web-based, state-of-the-art platform that approximately 4,100 public housing agencies (PHAs) use to help administer HUD's two largest rental assistance programs - public housing and the Housing Choice Vouchers Program (HCV), formerly known as Section 8.
EIV gives PHAs the tool to validate tenant-reported income, including wages, unemployment and Social Security benefits. Annually, families living in public housing or receiving HCV assistance are required to report their household income annually. PHAs use this information to determine the appropriate level of HUD subsidy the family is eligible to receive.
The Quality Control for Rental Assistance Subsidies Determinations Study released in 2001 for fiscal year 2000 estimated HUD gross improper payments at $3.2 billion, of which $978 million was attributable to tenant underreporting of income. Data from the fiscal year 2004 study indicate a decline in gross improper payments to $1.2 billion, a reduction of 61 percent. Tenant underreporting of income error has declined to $266 million, 73 percent from the fiscal year 2000 reported numbers. EIV has steadily and consistently resulted in the reduction of improper payments, gaining HUD a "green" score under the President's Management Agenda scorecard in 2005.
Since EIV's development two years ago, the PIH team has continued to refine its effectiveness. Last year, HUD entered into an agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services to gain access to its National Directory of New Hires database. Adding this data to the EIV system gave PHAs a one-stop-shop avenue for income verification. HUD plans to expand the EIV system during fiscal year 2007 for use by program administrators of the multifamily housing program. This increased expansion of the EIV system has the potential to eliminate the majority of the remaining estimated improper payments attributable to tenant underreporting of income.
Through initiatives like EIV, HUD is supporting The Improper Payments Information Act President Bush signed into law in 2002. The law requires all federal agencies to estimate improper payments and implement strategies to reduce erroneous payments in its activities and programs .
For the past 21 years, Government Computer News, a news magazine that covers the government information technology (IT) industry, has been awarding federal, state and local government agencies for using IT to improve their entity's effectiveness and efficiency and for solving a significant or longstanding problem in a measurable and sustained way. The awards are presented to teams or group performance on a project.
HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) is responsible for managing and administering a range of programs, including the two largest federal rental assistance programs - public housing and the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8). Combined the programs serve more than 3.2 million low-income families in the U.S. PIH also monitors the operations of the nation's approximately 3,400 public housing authorities that manage the country's more than 1.2 million public housing units and administer other HUD programs. PIH also manages the Office of Native American Programs, which is responsible for the implementation and administration of programs specific to Native Americans housing and economic development. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.