D
Summary of Previous Reports

2000 ASSESSMENT

The committee produced its initial report, The Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing: Year 2000 Progress Assessment of the PATH Program, in January 2001 (NRC, 2001). It primarily addressed the goals set for the program, provided a preliminary assessment of the program’s management structure and activities, and discussed the need and precedents for a program like PATH.

The committee found that the goals established for the program by the administration, which were based on housing performance objectives, were unrealistic, somewhat contradictory, and influenced by numerous factors outside the scope of the program. Though the committee believed that the goals were laudable targets for improved housing, they were better suited to overall government policy direction than to performance measurement of a small technology-focused program.

The committee observed that the program failed to distinguish clearly between PATH and PATH-related programs, making it difficult to identify the value added by PATH. While applauding the program’s structure for communications with the homebuilding industry, the committee found a need for a clearer understanding of the program’s multiple audiences, mentioning code officials as key participants who were underrepresented.

In 2000 it was too early to evaluate specific initiatives; however, the committee recognized the potential for success in demonstration projects, roadmapping, technology inventory, ToolBase, and the NSF research program. The committee recommended that the program reduce its emphasis on R&D for new technologies and increase emphasis on understanding market dynamics and removal of barriers to the development and diffusion of technologies. The committee also recognized the need for continuing independent evaluation of key activities like ToolBase. The committee cited economic, social, and technological principles that supported the need for a program like PATH and noted that it was evolving and improving (NRC, 2001).

The committee made nine recommendations based on its 2000 assessment:

Recommendation 1. The PATH Program should be continued as a partnership among federal agencies and between the federal government and the private sector. The program should be reviewed continu-



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D Summary of Previous Reports 2000 ASSESSMENT The committee produced its initial report, The Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing: Year 2000 Progress Assessment of the PATH Program, in January 2001 (NRC, 2001). It primarily addressed the goals set for the program, provided a preliminary assessment of the program’s management structure and activities, and discussed the need and precedents for a program like PATH. The committee found that the goals established for the program by the administration, which were based on housing performance objectives, were unrealistic, somewhat contradictory, and influenced by numerous factors outside the scope of the program. Though the committee believed that the goals were laudable targets for improved housing, they were better suited to overall government policy direction than to performance measurement of a small technology-focused program. The committee observed that the program failed to distinguish clearly between PATH and PATH-related programs, making it difficult to identify the value added by PATH. While applauding the program’s structure for communications with the homebuilding industry, the committee found a need for a clearer understanding of the program’s multiple audiences, mentioning code officials as key participants who were underrepresented. In 2000 it was too early to evaluate specific initiatives; however, the committee recognized the potential for success in demonstration projects, roadmapping, technology inventory, ToolBase, and the NSF research program. The committee recommended that the program reduce its emphasis on R&D for new technologies and increase emphasis on understanding market dynamics and removal of barriers to the development and diffusion of technologies. The committee also recognized the need for continuing independent evaluation of key activities like ToolBase. The committee cited economic, social, and technological principles that supported the need for a program like PATH and noted that it was evolving and improving (NRC, 2001). The committee made nine recommendations based on its 2000 assessment: Recommendation 1. The PATH Program should be continued as a partnership among federal agencies and between the federal government and the private sector. The program should be reviewed continu-

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ously and updated to ensure that it evolves into an effective, efficient vehicle for the development and deployment of beneficial technologies. Recommendation 2. PATH should undertake market research on builders’ and consumers’ perceptions of new technologies. Information on the successes and failures of new technologies and processes for introducing them into the housing industry should be incorporated into PATH’s technology development and deployment strategy. PATH strategies for disseminating information to its diverse audiences should be evaluated continuously and refined as necessary. Recommendation 3. More realistic and achievable goals should be developed commensurate with the size and mission of the PATH Program. Performance should be measured by criteria that are directly influenced by PATH initiatives, such as the rate of deployment of identified technologies and the level of investment by the housing industry in research and development. Recommendation 4. PATH should develop credible baseline data so that the program’s performance toward achieving its goals can be objectively and independently assessed. Recommendation 5. PATH should maintain its current management structure but should be careful to maintain PATH’s independence from ongoing programs and not to become a surrogate for these programs. PATH strategic and management plans should focus on opportunities for synergies and collaboration in ongoing programs and should make a clear distinction between coordination and initiatives that are directly controlled and funded through PATH. PATH management objectives should measure the value added to ongoing programs by PATH initiatives. Recommendation 6. PATH should continue to provide seed money for research and development of new technologies, foster PATH name recognition to promote PATH goals and technologies, and educate and transfer information among its diverse stakeholders. Recommendation 7. PATH should expand its use of demonstration projects to help develop market recognition for the PATH Program. Demonstration projects should be planned to measure the performance and value of new technologies and disseminate information to promote and facilitate the use of the demonstrated technologies. Recommendation 8. The roadmapping process should include basic research, applied research, technology transfer, and process and planning issues in addition to materials and hardware. Participation in the roadmapping process should be expanded to include representatives of the financial, insurance, real estate, planning, and regulatory communities, as well as trade associations and consumer groups. The roadmaps should also identify opportunities for academic/business partnerships. Recommendation 9. PATH should develop standard evaluation procedures, including the benchmarking of technologies that have been successfully integrated into the housing industry, to increase the usefulness of the Technology Inventory. The effectiveness of the ToolBase program in transferring information to home builders and other audiences should be evaluated. 2001 ASSESSMENT The committee prepared a 2001 assessment of the PATH program as an interim letter report released in January 2002 (NRC, 2002). The report addressed changes in PATH related to recommendations in the 2000 assessment and provided an interim assessment of several activities. The report noted

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that there had been a substantial change in the management of the program when the PATH program office was closed, its management responsibilities shifted to the staff of the HUD Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R), and the involvement of other federal agencies reduced. This new structure was recognized as having the potential of being more efficient. The committee commended the revision of the program’s strategic plan to address goals related to the development and diffusion of technology rather than housing performance, but noted the need to identify baseline metrics. The research on market dynamics was applauded and it was suggested that additional insight could be obtained by partnering with large corporate builders who regularly conduct such studies. The report acknowledged the success of the PATH program in disseminating information on the Internet and reiterated the need to broaden the program’s focus beyond homebuilders and to conduct continuous assessment of the objectivity and accuracy of the information posted on the program’s Web pages. It was noted that the committee was undertaking a detailed review of the program and developing evaluation questions and performance targets to assess the program’s activities and their impact on achieving the revised goals and objectives (NRC, 2002). REFERENCES NRC (National Research Council). 2002. The Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) 2001 Assessment, letter report, February 13, 2002. Washington, D.C.: National Research Council. NRC. 2001. The Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing: Year 2000 Progress Assessment of the PATH Program. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.