The Future State of HUD: What Difference Could MHC's Make?

February 2002 - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been a troubled agency for at least two decades. In the mid-1990s, the department’s troubles were so serious that GAO gave it a first-ever whole department “high risk” designation. The perception became widespread—both inside and outside the government—that HUD simply doesn’t work.

This situation has attracted many reformers. The Millennial Housing Commission (MHC) is by no means the first. So MHC has an opportunity to draw on other recent reform efforts to help it understand what needs to be done and how to do it successfully. The purpose of this paper is to examine how MHC’s main reform proposals might affect the future organization and management of HUD. The question is, “What would HUD look like if the Commission’s recommendations were to be implemented?”

Prepared by the staff of the National Academy of Public Administration (Academy), this paper is based on published Academy Panel reports and other information in the public domain, but it does not include any new research and does not make new recommendations. It was agreed at the outset that those steps were beyond the scope of this paper because they would have required a larger study, more time, and appointment of a new Academy Panel.

This paper begins by summarizing some of the main draft MHC proposals. It also examines some recent HUD reform efforts and related perspectives from non-housing reports. From those reports, the paper extracts eight principles for assessing HUD reform proposals and the organizational and management implications of MHC’s potential recommendations to Congress. Finally, it explores how implementation of the Commission’s potential recommendations may affect the future shape of HUD. This paper is intended to provide helpful information for MHC’s use as it weighs its recommendations.