Secretary�s Awards Ceremony
REMARKS PREPARED FOR
ROY A. BERNARDI, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2008
Thank you, Anoop (Prakash). Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming.
Today we recognize colleagues who have made a tremendous difference in our work. But we also convey our respect and appreciation to all of those who make HUD more efficient and effective. Some of our colleagues have been singled out for recognition. But everyone at HUD deserves praise and thanks. You all give the highest level of public service each and every day.
In our time together, we have turned the agency around. When I started here more than seven years ago, we were slammed by the GAO and others for our work product. The Washington Post called HUD the "ugly duckling" of government. They said we were the "face" of the GAO high risk list. At the time, some critics said that we would stay on the list for years to come, for decades, as if we were anchored to the list.
But they were wrong. They didn't know us...they didn't understand that we would take that criticism as a challenge. We looked into our hearts. We assessed the work product ourselves. We made changes. And now, all these years later, HUD has been removed from the GAO high risk list. I am really proud of that achievement. I know you are proud, too. It wouldn't have happened without each and every one of you.
Now, other agencies are looking to us. They want to model themselves after us. We have become a leader in governmental services. In fact, in 2007, for the first time in 13 years, not one single program at HUD appeared on the risk list. In addition, we have received eight consecutive unqualified ("clean") audits on HUD's annual financial statements. And last year I was invited to address government managers who wanted to know how we did it...how we went from the bottom of the GAO list to the top.
And I was pleased to tell them about our programmatic efforts, our management changes, and our internal improvements. But I also told them about our employees, about the culture of service you have created, about the hard work and commitment of each of our employees.
Because of these management changes, the American people have saved billions of dollars. One estimate is that our management changes have saved over $2 billion.
Excellence creates an environment for more excellence. In fact, the department has received the prestigious 2008 Excellence.Gov Award from the American Council for Technology (ACT) for the Department's innovative Enterprise Income Verification System (EIV). This system is designed to reduce improper rental assistance payments and was selected as one of just five top e-government programs from among 20 finalists at 13 government agencies. We were recognized for the creativity and hard work of some our colleagues in developing our EIV system to reduce improper rental assistance payments, leading to a 70 percent decline in improper payments.
And this year we won the Deming Award. This is one of the most coveted awards in government. We earned this award - and I want to stress that word: "earned" - for our compliance and monitoring training program for employees and managers.
Those we honor today were a big part of our turnaround. I thank each one of you for your commitment to the department and the people we serve. I have said many times that our removal from the high risk list was due to every single employee at HUD. This was an achievement that was a total team effort.
So I congratulate the award winners, and each and everyone one of you for your inspiring work. Congratulations.
Now, I would like to turn the podium over to Secretary Preston. He has a few remarks.