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1 Introduction Technological innovations can make housing more affordable, efficient, and safe—factors that are key to the well-being of American families. The Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) was created to facilitate the development and diffusion of innovation in the housing industry (NSTC, 1999). PATH was initiated in 1998 when Congress appropriated funds for HUD to begin implementing the concept, which was created by the National Science and Technology Council Construction and Building Subcommittee (NSTC C&B). PATH is different from previous programs intended to influence technology in housing (e.g., Operation Breakthrough) in that private industry and academic institutions participate in planning and directing the program, and the program addresses the development and diffusion of technologies industrywide rather than promoting selected technologies or particular segments of the industry. The program is intended to make a difference by leveraging the influence and investments of partners in government, industry, and academic institutions. SCOPE OF THE STUDY The Government Performance and Results Act passed by Congress in June 1993 found that congressional policymaking, spending decisions, and program oversight were seriously handicapped by insufficient attention to program performance and results. Congress determined that the confidence of the American people in the federal government could be improved by systematically holding federal agencies accountable for achieving program results. The congressional conference report accompanying the Veterans Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Independent Agencies Appropriation Act of 1999 (P.L. 105-275) provided funding for PATH and directed it to provide an operating plan for the PATH program and draft an evaluation report describing progress toward meeting PATH goals. HUD’s October 25, 2000 Strategy and Operating Plan noted that independent, multiyear oversight and evaluation of PATH would enhance the credibility of the program (HUD, 2000); HUD asked the National Research Council (NRC) to provide it. The NRC assembled a panel of experts as the Commit-
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tee for Review and Assessment of the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing under the NRC Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment. The members of the committee have expertise in housing design and construction, manufactured housing, social impacts of the built environment, sustainable building technologies, residential energy management, material performance and durability, the use of recycled and engineered construction products, safety of the construction workplace, disaster resistance of housing, product certification, and residential building codes as applied to a wide range of housing industry segments (site-built, manufactured, affordable, not-for-profit, mass market, and custom-built) (see biographies, Appendix A). It was also determined that the committee required expertise in program evaluation and performance measurement. Julia Melkers, professor of public administration at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, provided this expertise. The committee was asked to determine whether the PATH program is achieving its objectives to expand the utilization of new technologies in the American housing industry. The principal goal of this effort (see statement of task, Appendix B) was to review and comment on (1) the PATH program goals, (2) the approach proposed to meet the goals and the likelihood of achieving them, and (3) the progress made toward achieving PATH’s goals. The committee determined that assessing PATH’s goals required it to evaluate the fundamental need and precedents for a federal program such as PATH. The committee also determined that evaluating the program’s progress toward achieving its goals required metrics and a system for applying them into the future. HUD will submit the report produced by this NRC committee to Congress to fulfill part of its reporting obligation. APPROACH TO REVIEW AND ASSESSMENT This review of the PATH program, which began in April 2000, was planned as a 3-year undertaking. The committee met six times to be briefed on the administration and activities of the program. Among the presenters were representatives from PATH management and from federal agencies and private organizations participating in the program, including the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the National Association of Home Builders Research Center (NAHBRC). The committee also heard from builders participating in PATH-sponsored demonstration projects and the PATH Industry Steering Committee (see Appendix C for a list of presentations). In August 2001, the committee reviewed the PATH mission, goals, and objectives as revised by HUD with assistance from the committee consultant, Dr. Melkers. The committee and Dr. Melkers then used the revised strategic plan as the basis for the program evaluation (see Chapter 4), and the framework for future assessments (see Chapter 5). ORGANIZATION OF THIS REPORT This third and final report of the committee evaluates activities initiated between 1999 and 2001 and assesses how well they support the PATH program goals and the likelihood of achieving the goals as revised in 2001 (see Appendix D for a summary of the 2000 and 2001 assessments). This report also describes an evaluation framework that can be used to assess future progress in meeting the program goals. The discussion of the need for a program like PATH has been expanded to consider the possible direct impact of the program on the development and diffusion of technology for housing. Chapter 1, Introduction, describes the background and purpose of PATH and the purpose of this 3-year assessment. It states the rationale for the selection of the committee and its charge. Chapter 2, Evolution of PATH, describes the origin of PATH and its relationship to past activities at
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HUD and the National Science and Technology Council Construction and Building Subcommittee (NSTC C&B). It describes how the program’s goals evolved from the C&B’s national construction goals to the housing performance goals established for PATH at its inception, and how these were revised to address the development and diffusion of technology in housing. It also describes changes in program administration and the activities supported by the program from 1999 through 2001. Chapter 3, PATH’s Approach to Advancing Housing Technology, discusses the program, which is based on the hypotheses that innovative technologies can improve housing performance and reduce costs, and that there is a need for intervention to increase the rate of innovation in the housing industry. PATH’s goals are discussed in terms of general theories of the development and diffusion of innovation and of the committee’s perception of barriers to innovation in the housing industry. The committee provides examples of activities that are needed to solve the problems PATH is intended to address. Chapter 4, 2002 Assessment of PATH, presents the committee’s evaluation of the program through 2002. The evaluation critiques a selection of the 56 PATH activities initiated between 1999 and 2001 that the committee considered most significant, and assesses progress toward achieving the program’s goals. Chapter 5, Process for Long-Term Performance Assessment and Program Improvement, discusses how established principles and procedures for program evaluation can be incorporated into procedures for long-term assessment of PATH. The procedures emphasize the dual purpose of evaluating past performance and planning future activities to achieve the program’s goals. The appendixes include (A) biographies of the members of the committee; (B) the committee’s statement of task; (C) a summary of information presented to the committee in 2000 through 2002; (D) a summary of previous committee reports; and (E) a list of assessment questions and performance targets. REFERENCES HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development). 2000. Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing: Strategy and Operating Plan. Washington, D.C.: Department of Housing and Urban Development. NSTC (National Science and Technology Council). 1999. Construction and Building: Interagency Program for Technical Advancement in Construction and Building. Washington, D.C.: National Science and Technology Council.
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