FY 1998 - 2003 Strategic Plan
Customer Service

A full description of HUD actions taken to improve customer service was given in the HUD Customer Service Report to the National Performance Review (1996). HUD's program was rated one of the top programs in the Federal Government. What follows below are specific efforts by the major programs of HUD.

Housing/Federal Housing Administration

The Office of Housing/Federal Housing Administration has made great strides in the area of customer service. We have conducted two formal surveys of our external customers and issued two reports. In addition, FHA has held numerous focus group sessions with industry representatives to determine how best to proceed with legislative and program changes. Partnerships have been forged with industry and special interest groups.

FHA has changed the way it does business as a result of its customer service outreach. FHA's use of the Web has grown extensively and will continue to expand. Many important documents pertaining to the business of FHA can now be found on the Web, as well as many informational pieces. Staff have been trained and will continue to receive training on how to best address the needs of customers. We are also streamlining and automating routine processing procedures for Single Family mortgage insurance programs.

Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity

Customer service is a high priority of FHEO. To this end, FHEO has conducted customer satisfaction surveys of FHAP partners -- State and local fair housing agencies -- to get their assessment of HUD's performance. FHEO has also surveyed FHAP complainants to obtain an assessment of FHAP agency performance. The findings have been shared with HUD and FHAP administrators. Complainants gave our FHAP partners high marks in conducting a fair and impartial investigation and in treating them with courtesy and respect. Our next task is to survey the respondents (the persons against whom the complaints were filed) to get their perceptions of the complaint process. Eventually, all FHEO programs will be surveyed.

Public and Indian Housing

PIH uses "Forums" on the Web to foster not only communication between HUD to Housing Authorities, but also between Housing Authorities and HUD. This allows peers with the same problems to contact each other in order to provide solutions amongst themselves in order to assure quick communication.

In addition to the "forums" process, PIH also uses the Web's electronic mail component as a tool to provide direct feedback to Housing Authorities and the general public. This effort allows for the elimination of the paper process and supports a quick response to unique problems.

Another activity involves the development of a "resident survey" (indirect customer) to measure the level of satisfaction and resident perceptions of just how well our Public Housing customers are delivering services. The results of these surveys will further enhance our ability to provide guidance and technical assistance to PHAs.

Community Planning and Development

To ensure effective customer service, CPD staff places special emphasis on getting our state and local partners to empower customers to play a meaningful role in shaping the scope, direction, and priorities in local plans and programs to use CPD resources.

It has done this through the following techniques:

  • Strengthening citizen participation requirements for the local Consolidated Plan which is needed to qualify for all CPD programs. Each strategy and statement of needs (every five years) and action plan laying out what is to be done with CPD funds for the year ( every year) must be reviewed by citizens, hearings held, and citizens given a reasonable opportunity to comment. Citizen comments must be included in the Consolidated Plan along with a description of what actions were taken on those comments.

  • Annual evaluation of the adequacy of citizen participation by each grantee.

  • Making available to our State and local partners the computer technology to present computer-generated maps to citizens. They show where projects proposed for the year are to be located in relation to existing neighborhood conditions. It is more understandable to see one map than review a long and complex plan.

  • Preparing executive summaries of over 1,000 Consolidated Plans, with computer generated maps, that have been placed on the Web for access to any one in the United States who uses the Web. This is designed to ensure that the Consolidated Plans are understandable by citizens and community groups.

  • Sale of over 300 computer packages at a below market price ($125) to groups and citizens throughout the United States so that they can generate their own maps. The packages contain disks with local census data.

  • Development of a simple format for presenting annual performance and evaluation reports for each grantee in a form that citizens can understand. Citizens must have 15 days to comment before the report is submitted to HUD annually.

  • Development of an Integrated Disbursement and Information System which will require grantees to report what they actually achieved during the year. The results of State and local achievements will be published annually so that citizens can compare what their community has achieved compared to other communities

Tools appropriate to measure consumer satisfaction with services provided by agencies that directly service the public (such as IRS, Immigration and Naturalization Service, the VA, and Social Security Administration) are not necessarily the appropriate tools for agencies which do not work directly with the public. Given the fact that our state and local partners and the 15,000 subrecipients are the primary point of contact with the customers, it would be very difficult and not very meaningful for CPD to conduct a customer survey. There is no mailing list of CPD ultimate customers. Roughly six to eight million customers benefit from CPD programs every year, but they deal ninety percent of the time with the actual providers of local services. Consumer complaints or requests for information are generally the only direct customer contact with CPD. Complaints, for the most part, deal with the quality of local services and facilities provided.

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Content Archived: December 12, 2011