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Page 7 1 Introduction The Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) is an initiative of the U.S. government to stimulate the public and private sectors to develop and use new technologies that could improve the performance and reduce the costs of American homes. The program focuses on the materials, products, tools and equipment, subsystems, and systems that are incorporated into houses and the home construction process. PATH brings together federal agencies with leaders of the home building, product manufacturing, architectural, engineering, insurance, financial, and regulatory communities in a unique partnership focused on encouraging technological innovation in the American housing industry. This is the first major technology-based initiative in the U.S. housing industry in several decades. Operation Breakthrough, an initiative by the federal government to promote research and development (R & D) in housing in the 1970s, failed to meet its overall objectives. Its goal was to develop and promote new technologies for housing but the government had neither the technical expertise nor the market experience to make the program a commercial success. Operation Breakthrough was an example of the public sector attempting to direct the development of specific technologies for a commercial market in which the government had little or no procurement interest. The lessons learned from Operation Breakthrough and other federal R & D projects are that successful programs have the following characteristics: association with government procurement or some other well defined public-sector objective; support of defined, nonproprietary research guided by a scientific community; and an institutional structure that allows potential users to guide the program (Langlois and Nelson, 1983). Because the PATH Program is a partnership with the private sector, it is positioned to avoid many of the problems encountered by Operation Breakthrough. Its success, however, will require that goals and objectives be carefully defined and cooperative relationships with both private and public sector partners be established. PATH is an ambitious program that seeks to achieve many goals: improved durability of materials and components; reduced carbon emissions through reduced energy use; reduced water use; reduced construction waste; increased use of recycled, engineered, or alternative construction materials; increased use of renewable energy; improved disaster resistance; and improved safety for construction workers. The overarching goal of the program is to make housing more affordable. PATH was initiated in fiscal year (FY)1998 when Congress appropriated $980,000 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In FY99, and again in FY00, Congress appropriated $10 million for the PATH Program. The program is administered by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research (PD&R). The congressional conference report accompanying the Veterans Administration, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriation Act of 1999 (P.L. 105-275) directed HUD
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Page 8 ... to cooperate with other federal agencies and the housing industry, and to engage in PATH activities that will provide research, development, testing, and engineering protocols for building materials and methods as described in the Industry Implementation Plan of the Residential National Construction Goals. The conference report also directed that HUD provide an operating plan for the PATH Program and a draft evaluation report describing progress towards meeting PATH goals. The first operating plan was submitted on March 11, 1999, and the first progress report on meeting the objectives outlined in the operating plan was submitted to Congress on April 22, 1999. Determining how well PATH is meeting its multiple program objectives will require both a framework for evaluating performance and specific performance measures. HUD believes that the evaluations should be part of a multiyear oversight and assessment process carried out by an independent review body; therefore, HUD requested the assistance of the National Research Council (NRC). SCOPE OF THE REVIEW In response to HUD's request for an independent review, the NRC assembled a panel of experts, the Committee for Oversight and Assessment of the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing, under the auspices of the Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment. The committee was asked to review and comment on the overall goals of the PATH program, the proposed approach to meeting the goals and the likelihood of achieving them, and progress toward achieving the goals. The committee determined that assessing the overall goals of the PATH Program also required evaluating the fundamental need and precedents for such a federal government program. HUD will submit the reports produced by this NRC committee to Congress to fulfill part of the department's reporting obligation. The report will also have broader federal government interest in Congress and other Executive Branch agencies, as well as state and local governments, and the private sector. The 14 members of the committee have expertise in housing design and construction processes, manufactured housing, social impacts of the built environment, sustainable building technologies, residential energy management, material performance and durability, recycled and engineered construction products, safety of the construction workplace, disaster resistance of housing, product certification, residential building codes, and program evaluation and performance measurement. Biographical information about committee members is provided in Appendix A. ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT This is the first report of a planned multiyear assessment. The focus in this initial report is on the precedents and need for PATH as a federal program; the validity and appropriateness of the program goals; the overall soundness of the management approach described in the strategic and operating plans; and a preliminary evaluation of the
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Page 9 implementation of several PATH projects. The report does not include qualitative or quantitative analysis of the program budget or the results of PATH projects. Future studies will focus on developing and applying qualitative and quantitative criteria for evaluating the implementation of PATH projects. The committee held two meetings for this phase of the review, on May 23 and 24, 2000, in Washington, D.C. and on August 29 and 30, 2000, in Irvine, California. This report draws heavily on briefings provided by representatives of PATH management, participants and contractors, as well as the considerable experience of committee members. Chapter 2 is a discussion of the need for the PATH Program; Chapter 3 is a review and assessment of the PATH goals and objectives; Chapter 4 is a discussion of the organization of the program and the management structure; and Chapter 5 addresses implementation issues and presents the committee's observations and recommendations regarding program implementation to date. Committee biographies, a list of presentations to the committee, and some historical case studies of the diffusion of housing technologies based on the knowledge and experience of committee members are included in the appendixes. REFERENCES Langlois, R.R., and Nelson, R.N. 1983. Industrial innovation policy: lessons from American history, Science 219(2): 814–818.
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