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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD 2 Background The primary purpose of PD&R is to support the mission of HUD by providing policy analysis, research, monitoring and evaluation, and data for the Secretary and others to help inform the development of sound policies and programs. The office prides itself on providing high-quality, reliable, and objective data and analysis to help inform the policy process. As described below, PD&R is able to draw on a wide range of analytical expertise and information resources to help senior HUD staff make informed policy decisions and to help develop sound budget, legislative, or regulatory proposals. In addition to its research, data, monitoring and evaluation, and policy analysis functions, PD&R has other related responsibilities, including building university partnerships to increase community and economic development activities, and running an international office charged with coordinating the department’s international affairs. The chapter is organized into three major sections. The first section of the chapter provides a brief overview of the history of PD&R. The second section outlines the current organizational structure and describes the major roles and functions of each of the main units. The last section discusses the levels and changes in funding and staffing over time. HISTORY Federal support for research on housing dates back to the National Housing Act of 1934 (P.L. 73-473, 209), which authorized the federal housing administrator to conduct “such statistical surveys and legal and economic studies as he shall deem useful to guide the development of
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD housing and the creation of a sound mortgage market in the United States.” This authority, eventually transferred to the secretary of HUD when the department was created in 1965, remains in force. Several other research authorities were later enacted, beginning in 1948, authorizing the administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency (the immediate predecessor of HUD) to conduct research on building technology and related issues and to develop data on the housing inventory and the mortgage market. HUD’s earliest structure did not contain a separate research, evaluation, or policy development unit. To the extent that these formal functions existed within the new cabinet-level agency, they were carried out in the offices of the four original program assistant secretaries: the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), housing production and mortgage credit, which included the model cities and metropolitan development, public housing, and urban renewal. HUD’s first secretary, Robert Weaver, created two offices that later were merged into PD&R. William Ross served as deputy under secretary for policy, program, and evaluation. He was succeeded by Charles Orlebeke in 1969, as deputy under secretary for policy analysis and program evaluation, in a broad policy advisory role to Secretary George Romney. It was in this office where virtually all of the staff economists and social scientists were housed in the department’s early years. In addition, Secretary Weaver established an Office of Research and Technology in 1967, headed first by Thomas Rogers under Secretary Weaver and then by Harold Finger, an engineer, under Secretary Romney. This office was important because Weaver’s successor, George Romney, placed a strong emphasis on building technology. He brought to HUD the notion that the housing construction process could be streamlined and “that the cost of housing could be substantially reduced if more construction took place in the factory, rather than on-site, and if modular construction techniques were more widely used” (Foote, 1995, p. 75). HUD’s Operation Breakthrough, begun in 1969, attempted to make this vision a reality. Romney described it “not [as] a program designed to see just how cheaply we can build a house, but a way to break through to total new systems of housing production, financing, marketing, management and land use” (Lin and Stotesbury, 1970, p. 872). Much of Operation Breakthrough’s conceptual and technical work was centered in the Office of Research and Technology. At the time, HUD had little in the way of technical expertise in building systems, so one of the first things that Finger did was to shore up the agency’s building technology capability. HUD’s various research authorities were codified in Title V of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1970 (P.L. 91-609), and it remains the legal authority under which HUD now conducts research. It gave HUD
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD broad general authority to undertake “programs of research, studies, testing, and demonstration relating to the mission and programs of the Department” (Section 501). It also specifically authorized research on building technology (Section 502) and on housing allowances (Section 504). (Title V repealed seven previous research authorities, enacted between 1948 and 1968.) In 1973, incoming HUD Secretary James Lynn decided to combine the Office of Research and Technology and the staff of the deputy under secretary for policy analysis and program evaluation, believing that the activities of these offices were closely related. Lynn was an advocate of program evaluation. The two offices were consolidated into a new Office of Policy Development and Research, to be headed by an assistant secretary. PD&R’s first assistant secretary was an economist, Michael H. Moskow. While bringing a social scientist to develop the department’s research program might have seemed like a bold move at the time, in retrospect, many of the issues raised by Operation Breakthrough involved market, finance, and program issues that had more to do with economics than with engineering. Since Moskow’s tenure, most assistant secretaries of PD&R have been trained in the social sciences rather than in engineering or other fields. In contrast to his predecessor’s focus on building technology, Moskow’s initial focus at HUD was on the excessive costs and abuse in HUD’s housing production programs and on housing policy issues, relegating the building technology agenda to a secondary status. Moskow served as the head of the National Housing Policy Review (NHPR), which was conducted outside of PD&R but included many of the staff from both predecessor offices and other analysts from outside HUD. The NHPR evaluated all of the major housing subsidy programs; its analysis became the basis for the Nixon administration’s proposals that were incorporated in the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1974. PD&R’s shift in focus also had significant staffing implications by increasing the importance of training in the social sciences and reducing the emphasis on engineering and other technical backgrounds. Moskow established an Office of Economic Affairs, headed by a deputy assistant secretary, which has remained the locus of economic research and policy making. In the aftermath of the problems and scandals in several assisted housing programs, Moskow won acceptance from program offices that new programs and initiatives should build in an evaluation process from the beginning. Moskow also devoted substantial attention to community development issues. Urban renewal was repealed in the 1974 Act, in the context of widespread dissatisfaction from diverse political constituencies and much critical research. It and six other categorical programs were replaced by the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG). Moskow established a program of grants to local governments to build capacity
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD in managing the new block grant program. In addition, he established a working relationship with the Neighborhood Reinvestment Task Force at the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, providing the first federal funding for what became Neighborhood Housing Services and then NeighborWorks. Finally, Moskow inherited responsibility for the Annual Housing Survey (now the American Housing Survey), which was developed during the early 1970s and first conducted in 1973. During Moskow’s term and the terms of his immediate successors as assistant secretary for PD&R, former Deputy Under Secretary Orlebeke (1975-1977) and Donna Shalala (1977-1979), social scientists and research specialists began to dominate PD&R’s staff. Under Orlebeke, PD&R became the headquarters office with responsibility for HUD’s staff of field economists, who were responsible for monitoring economic and social trends in local areas and evaluating the viability of proposed FHA-insured multifamily projects. Through the creative use of temporary positions under Assistant Secretary Shalala in particular, the career staff was supplemented by a large number of visiting scholars who took leave from their academic faculty appointments to spend a year or two at HUD conducting housing and urban policy research. While the transition from research and technology to policy development and research in the 1970s was quite dramatic, not all of Finger’s attention was on technical matters. At the same time, the design and early implementation began of what is, arguably, the most important social science-based housing demonstration, HUD’s Experimental Housing Allowance Program, an effort to assess the possible impact of cash payments to eligible households through a set of three experiments in 12 American cities (see Bradbury and Downs, 1981). Nor was Moskow’s attention entirely on programmatic research. PD&R assumed oversight responsibility for the National Institute of Building Sciences authorized in the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974. It was also in the post-Arab oil embargo environment of the 1970s that PD&R took on another technology-oriented role, funded largely by significant interagency fund transfer from the fledgling Department of Energy. Rather than focusing on the construction process, the focus was on alternative energy systems, such as solar, to heat and cool homes and on cost-effective energy conservation practices. In this decade also, PD&R began its continuing program of research on the extent of discrimination in housing markets. During the 1980s, PD&R’s most significant research activities consisted of evaluating the new housing assistance programs enacted in 1974 (under Section 8), and in developing policy recommendations to establish the housing voucher program, enacted as a demonstration in 1983 and a full program in 1987. In addition, PD&R played an important role in the
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) after it was created in 1986 by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The then deputy assistant secretary for policy development served as the second executive director of the ICH. At the end of the decade, HUD acquired new authority to regulate the housing finance system, in the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989. The secretary was assigned the regulatory responsibility for Freddie Mac, paralleling his regulatory authority over Fannie Mae (which dated back to its establishment as a privately owned profit-making government-sponsored enterprise in 1968). He was also appointed ex officio to the new Federal Housing Finance Board, which regulates the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks. PD&R was assigned the responsibility for supporting Secretary Jack Kemp in these activities. During the 1990s there were important additions to PD&R’s portfolio that reflected changes in federal policy or initiatives building on its original responsibilities. They included the following: assisting the secretary and FHA commissioner in the program regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (primarily setting their affordable housing goals and monitoring their performance), assigned to HUD in the Federal Housing Enterprises Safety and Soundness Act of 1992; promoting university and community partnerships through grants and technical assistance that would be administered through a new Office of University Partnerships (OUP); founding two important journals, Quarterly Housing Market Conditions and Cityscape, the former based on the Federal Reserve’s “beige book”; and managing a new federal interagency initiative called the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH), dedicated to accelerating the development and use of technologies that radically improve the quality, durability, energy efficiency, environmental performance, and cost of America’s housing. PATH’s oversight was housed in PD&R’s Division of Technology Research. In 1994 at the direction of Secretary Henry Cisneros, HUD established the OUP to support and increase collaborative efforts with colleges and universities through grants, conferences, and research. OUP had three primary goals: to provide funding opportunities to colleges and universities to implement community activities, revitalize neighborhoods, address economic development and housing issues, and encourage partnerships;
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD to create a dialogue between colleges and universities and communities to gain knowledge and support of partnership activities and opportunities as well as connect them to other potential partners and resources; and to assist in producing the next generation of urban scholars and professionals who are focused on housing and community development issues. Most of these activities are not research or policy development. They are community development efforts undertaken by institutions such as property acquisition, demolition, rehabilitation, and similar activities; construction or reconstruction of public facilities; home ownership assistance; and local economic development. These activities are similar to those undertaken by local governments through the CDBG Program. Most of the programs now administered by OUP were in fact originally administered by the much larger Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD). Motivation for creating the new office was enactment of a new competitive grant program in the early 1990s, the Community Outreach Partnership Centers (COPC), that would bring the resources of colleges and universities into the service of their communities. COPC was originally based in CPD, but moved to PD&R because of delays in promulgating the initial guidelines. Bringing COPC and other small programs (such as the HUD work study program) into PD&R had more to do with PD&R’s familiarity with institutions of higher learning and its greater sensitivity to the rhythm of the academic calendar than any other factor. Because CPD was also responsible for administering multibillion dollar CDBG and homeless assistance programs, there was concern among senior HUD officials that locating this program in CPD might result in delays in processing applications for graduate work-study programs, which would mean that even winning colleges and universities would not be able to count on these critical resources at the time they needed them most, for recruiting minority and disadvantaged students in time for the coming academic year. Today, OUP administers eight competitive grant programs: Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions Assisting Communities Community Development Work Study Program Community Outreach Partnership Centers Doctoral Dissertation Research Grants Early Doctoral Student Research Grants Hispanic-Serving Institutions Assisting Communities Historically Black Colleges and Universities Tribal Colleges and Universities Program
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD OUP also administered two Universities Rebuilding America Partnerships programs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which provided grants to colleges and universities in the affected region during 2005. This program is no longer active. Of the OUP programs, only the small doctoral dissertation programs (totaling $400,000 in grants in 2007) can be considered as research. The Community Outreach Partnership Centers, which were last funded in 2005, had been directed at improving local neighborhoods through job training and assistance to new business and community development organizations. The Community Development Work Study Program was also last funded in 2005. The committee decided it would not be useful to review the small doctoral dissertation programs, and most of the other OUP program activities lie outside the committee’s mandate to review HUD’s research program. During the mid-1990s administration, OUP’s staff demands were met through a series of one-year term appointments reserved for a faculty member at a land grant college or university who had experience in community outreach at his or her home institution and wanted to spend a sabbatical year or two heading up this new office. Thus, initially, OUP did not compete for scarce permanent staff positions within PD&R. When the various competitive work study programs were transferred from CPD to PD&R, CPD resisted the transfer of program staff to administer these programs in their new location. Consequently, over time, OUP began to compete for staff resources with other divisions of PD&R. This issue loomed larger, once the department stopped the practice of recruiting visiting scholars to head OUP, relying instead on permanent PD&R staff, and assigning fulltime grant officers to OUP. Over time, PD&R staff has declined and OUP’s share has become disproportionately large, relative to core functions. CURRENT STRUCTURE The current structure of the Office of Policy Development and Research is shown in Figure 2-1. The office is headed by an assistant secretary for policy development and research, supported by two administrative and support divisions; the Budget, Contracts, and Program Control Division and the Management and Administrative Services Division. Under the assistant secretary for policy development and research are four major line units or offices each led by a deputy assistant secretary. These are: the Office of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs (ODAS/EA), the Office of Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs (ODAS/IA), the Office of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development (ODAS/PD), and the Office of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research, Evaluation, and Monitoring (ODAS/REM). In addition, OUP, led by an associate deputy assistant
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD FIGURE 2-1 Organizational chart, Office of Policy Development and Research. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (2006).
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD secretary reports directly to the assistant secretary for policy development and research. Given the committee’s charge to evaluate the research of PD&R (and not to evaluate budgetary or management support functions), the majority of this report focuses on three major offices within PD&R, which include ten units. The three major offices are ODAS/EA, ODAS/PD, and ODAS/ REM. The work of each of these three offices is described below. Office of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs (ODAS/EA) The Office of Economic Affairs is focused primarily on the economic aspects of housing and urban development policy. The vision of the office is to provide: (a) a strong in-house capacity to analyze major policy issues, particularly those of an economic nature; (b) high-quality national and local data on housing production, characteristics of the housing stock, social and economic conditions in cities, and key programmatic parameters such as FMRs; and, (c) a strong field economist organization that, through local housing market analyses, can provide market information to HUD program managers and support the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in making sound decisions on insuring sound multifamily properties. (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2006, p. 2) The work of the office is currently undertaken by five divisions: the Economic Market Analysis Division, the Housing Finance Analysis Division, the Housing and Demographic Analysis Division, the Economic Development and Public Finance Division, and the Finance Institutions Regulation Division (see Figure 2-1). The Economic and Market Analysis Division, which has six staff, provides data and program support to help guide policy development and operations for housing assistance programs by producing such information as fair market rents, median family income and income limits, annual adjustment factors, and operating cost adjustment factors used in HUD’s assisted housing programs. The division also performs various quality control studies of HUD’s public housing and Section 8 assistance programs. HUD’s field economists, who report to this division, are responsible for monitoring, analyzing, and reporting on regional and local economic and housing market conditions. The Housing Finance Analysis Division (HFAD), which has two staff, conducts in-house research and oversees external research on issues related to mortgage and capital markets. The division is principally concerned with the operation of current and alternative systems for financing single-family
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD and multifamily housing. HFAD staff study how alternative mechanisms, institutions, and rules affect the balance between, on one hand, expanding access to mortgage funds and, on the other hand, increasing the risk of default loss and institutional insolvencies. In addition to staff work in these areas, the HFAD staff also design, budget, and administer external research in these areas. The principal mission of the Housing and Demographic Analysis Division (HDAD) is to support the production and analysis of housing data in order to inform the department’s policy-making process. The four staff in this division cooperate with the U.S. Census Bureau to expand the availability of statistics on housing and urban development by producing and analyzing the American Housing Survey, the most comprehensive survey of housing conditions in the United States. HDAD also supports other important surveys, such as the Survey of Construction, which supplies two federal principal economic indicators, and the Survey of New Manufactured Housing Placements. In addition, the division monitors home ownership rates, produces the estimates of worst case needs, and publishes quarterly reports on U.S. housing market conditions. The Economic Development and Public Finance Division (EDPFD), which has three staff, develops and monitors major data bases, such as the state of the cities data, and conducts analyses related to the social and economic condition of cities. Division staff perform analysis related to major economic and fiscal trends, public finance, economic development, taxation, and general economic policy as they affect housing, public-sector financing, and community development. EDPFD is also responsible for reviewing new rules for significant economic impact and regulatory impact. Finally, the Finance Institutions Regulation Division, with five staff, has contributed to HUD’s regulatory oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by collecting data, maintaining data bases, and conducting a variety of research and analyses that relate to government-supported enterprises. With the passage of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, these functions and the staff will soon transfer to a new independent regulatory agency, the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Office of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development (ODAS/PD) The Office of Policy Development, as the name implies, engages in policy-related research and analysis in support of the development of policy and legislative proposals within the department. The unit’s staff is split approximately evenly between two divisions: the Policy Development Division (PDD) and the Research Utilization Division (RUD) (see Figure 2-1). PDD provides advice to the secretary and other senior HUD officials on policy issues arising from the formulation of legislative and budget proposals,
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD including interpretation of statutory language and regulatory responsibilities. RUD is primarily responsible for the dissemination and communication function of PD&R. By overseeing the development and maintenance of PD&R’s website as well as by operating PD&R’s information service, HUD USER, the division is responsible for ensuring that HUD’s data, research, and other related products are available to their intended audiences. Office of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research, Evaluation, and Monitoring (ODAS/REM) The Office of Research, Evaluation, and Monitoring (OREM) is currently the largest office operating under the assistant secretary for policy development and research. The mission of OREM is to “provide the highest quality information through research, program evaluation, policy analysis, and technical assistance to assist in decision-making regarding affordable housing, community development, fair housing, and building technology” (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2006, p. 3). It conducts research, monitoring and evaluation efforts for a wide variety of HUD programs and activities. The work of this Office is divided into three divisions (see Figure 2-1): the Program Evaluations Division, the Program Monitoring and Research Division, and the Affordable Housing Research and Technology Division. The function of the Program Evaluation Division is to design, procure, and manage contract research, demonstrations, and evaluations on a wide variety of topics related to HUD’s mission. A staff of nine also conducts in-house research and policy analysis. In recent years, studies run though this division have included research on home ownership, assisted housing (including public housing and Section 8), community development, crime, economic development empowerment zones, fair housing and equal opportunity, homelessness, and housing for the elderly. Among the division’s recent projects have been major experiments to promote self-sufficiency, including the Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing demonstration and the Welfare to Work Voucher demonstration. The function of the Program Monitoring and Research Division is to conduct in-house and oversee external research and provide advice and technical support to enhance the department’s capacity to perform program monitoring. Division staff work closely with the program offices to assemble and maintain data and information describing HUD operations. Particular areas of emphasis include public housing, Housing Choice Vouchers, multifamily assisted housing, housing mobility, rural and Indian housing, and geographic information systems analysis. Finally, the focus of the Affordable Housing Research and Technology Division (AHRTD) is planning, developing, and administering research
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD and analyses related to building technologies, regulatory barriers, community development, disasters, and environmental issues. The division is unique in PD&R because it not only conducts research, but it also manages three major programs for the department: PATH, the America’s Affordable Communities Initiative, and the HUD Energy Action Plan. AHRTD has 10 staff. STAFFING AND BUDGET Staffing Figure 2-2 shows PD&R’s staffing levels over time. In the aftermath of the HUD scandals in the late 1980s, the 1989 HUD Reform Act provided PD&R with additional staff and funds for evaluation and monitoring. Consequently, in 1991 the number of staff was higher than it had ever been, 144. The sharp drop in staff between 1991 and 1992 reflects a congressional requirement to create an Office of Lead-Based Paint and Healthy Homes. Staff assigned to this new office came out of PD&R’s ranks. Between 1991 and 1998, the number of staff employed in PD&R fell about 30 percent, or by 43 positions. The drop in the mid-1990s occurred throughout HUD FIGURE 2-2 Staff levels, 1991-2006. SOURCE: Unpublished data from HUD, Office of Administration. Data are based on automated personnel records.
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD in general, in response to changed priorities of the new Republican-led Congress. In 1999 an internal reorganization in HUD resulted in the department’s field economists being assigned to PD&R, so the staff jumped from 107 to 153 staff members. In 1974 PD&R had been given headquarters counterpart responsibility for the field economists, but they had remained on the staffs of the field offices. However, PD&R’s staff declined again to the low-mid 140s over the following decade. The secular decline in professional staff has necessitated a series of internal reorganizations and consolidations that were not undertaken for program reasons. Table 2-1 shows how staff changes at headquarters have affected staffing levels over time across the three main research offices in PD&R: the Office of Economic Affairs, the Office of Policy Development, and the Office of Research, Evaluation, and Monitoring.1 Reductions in staffing have occurred across each, with the largest reductions occurring in the 1980s. Internally, within the three main offices, attrition has led to some reorganization, including the merging of the Policy Studies Division into the Program Monitoring Division, the abolition of the Demonstration and Technology Divisions, as well as the reassignment of some people to the Office of Lead-Based Paint. Table 2-1 also shows staffing levels of the various other units: the front office staff, management services, budget and contracts, university partnerships, and the international division. It is noteworthy that, taken collectively, these units in PD&R have expanded over time, in large part due to the expansion of OUP and the Office of International Affairs. As noted earlier, these two offices have little to do with PD&R’s core mission of research, program monitoring, and evaluation. Using other data supplied by HUD, the committee was also able to examine the structure of PD&R staff by grade level over time. The committee was concerned that budget cuts and the loss of certain positions within PD&R may have created an imbalance in the ratio of senior professional staff to research assistants and other support staff. Because good research assistants are able to perform a wide range of research-related tasks quickly and at relatively low cost, they enable senior staff to work quicker and more efficiently. Although the committee was not supplied with unique job descriptions for each position within PD&R over time, it was able to track the ratio of senior professional and technical staff (GS 14 and GS 15 levels) to total PD&R staff. Table 2-2 shows the number of staff by grade and year 1 The small discrepancies between the numbers reported in Table 2-1 and those reported in Figure 2-2 for some years are the result of counts being taken from different sources. Table 2-1 was compiled by PD&R staff from telephone directories; the data in Figure 2-2 came from automated personnel records. It is likely that vacancies and temporary employees account for much of the variation.
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD TABLE 2-1 PD&R Staff Levels by Division Division 1978 1989 1996 1997 2004 2006 Nonresearch Front Office 10 14 6 9 6 8 Internationala —b 1 2 2 6 6 Management Services 8 8 5 4 7 4 Budget and Contracts 3 5 6 7 7 7 University Partnerships — — 2 6 7 6 Research A/S Economic Affairs 17 5 3 4 3 3 Economic Market Analysis 2 6 4 5 6 6 Finance Institutions Regulation — — 6 7 4 5 Housing Finance Analysis 5 8 4 5 3 2 Housing and Demographic Analysis 10 6 6 5 3 4 Economic Development and Public Finance 20 7 4 5 1 3 A/S Policy Development 8 4 7 4 0 1 Policy Development 8 8 11 13 12 8 Research Utilization 4 8 7 7 7 8 Policy Studiesc 14 6 — — — — Demonstrationd — 9 — — — — Capacity Building 16 — — — — — A/S Research, Evaluation, and Monitoring 19 3 3 2 3 4 Program Evaluations 10 — 11 14 10 10 Program Monitoring and Research — — 8 9 11 12 Housing and Community Studiese 13 12 — — — — Affordable Housing Research and Technologyf 19 17 6 6 8 10 Community Conservation 13 — — — — — Total, nonresearch staff 21 28 21 28 33 31 Total, research staff 178 99 80 86 71 76 aMost years, the International Division was not separate. b— Indicates that the division did not exist. cAfter considerable attrition, the Policy Studies Division staff were folded into the Monitoring Division. dAfter considerable attrition, the Demonstration Division staff were assigned to various other divisions. eThe Housing and Community Studies Division was divided into the Evaluation and Monitoring Divisions. fThe Technology Division lost staff and function to the newly created Office of Lead-Based Paint. SOURCE: Unpublished data from HUD, Office of Policy Development and Research.
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD TABLE 2-2 PD&R Staffing Levels by Grade by Year (excludes field economists) Period Grade Level GS 5-7 GS 8-11 GS 12-13 GS 14 GS 15 1991-1992 24 26 28 39 27 1992-1993 19 22 22 34 25 1993-1994 17 17 26 34 25 1994-1995 16 15 27 36 22 1995-1996 16 15 27 31 22 1996-1997 14 15 23 32 22 1997-1998 13 15 22 33 22 1998-1999 13 14 21 33 20 1999-2000 12 14 28 36 23 2000-2001 10 13 33 35 25 2001-2002 6 21 28 38 22 2002-2003 7 19 27 37 21 2003-2004 9 16 22 38 22 2004-2005 9 19 22 39 23 2005-2006 8 12 19 35 27 2006-2007 9 13 27 37 27 SOURCE: Unpublished data from HUD, Office of Policy Development and Research. for headquarters staff. The number of senior staff has remained relatively constant over the past 5 to 10 years (31 to 39 at GS 14 and 20 to 27 at GS 15) while the number of staff at lower grades has declined significantly. Consequently, the ratio of senior to junior PD&R staff is currently close to historically high levels. The committee also investigated the educational levels of PD&R staff over time, with information from HUD that was drawn from the employee’s last job application. Although the percentage of PD&R staff who have bachelor’s degrees has remained relatively constant over time, in the last 10 years there has been an increase in the percentage of staff with at least a master’s degree and a decrease in the percentage of staff with doctorate degrees. To better understand the level of qualifications and experience of PD&R professional staff, the committee developed a short questionnaire that was sent to all headquarters staff in the offices of economic affairs, policy development, and research, evaluation, and monitoring. About 70 percent of employees surveyed responded to the questionnaire. A comparison of the distribution of respondents by office and grade level with data supplied by HUD confirmed that the sample contained a reasonable range of PD&R employees.
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD The PD&R staff who responded to the questionnaire boast a range of professional backgrounds and experience. Their training spans many different fields, including economics, statistics, urban development or planning, political science, history, sociology, geography, engineering, information management, mathematics, and anthropology. Many respondents are also active professionally in their respective fields: 56 percent had given at least one presentation at a professional meeting within the last 3 years while more than 60 percent had attended at least one professional meeting in the last 3 years (several reported that limited funding restricted their ability to attend meetings). Fully 50 percent have published four or more professional publications during their careers, and 28 percent have published 10 or more. Because one of the critical roles of PD&R is the procuring and monitoring of research, the committee was interested to know what percentage of responsible staff have any background or training in research methodology in order to make informed decisions about research design. More than half of employees—58 percent—reported that they had four or more graduate courses in some aspects of research methodology. However, few staff reported having any exposure to statistics or methodological training at the graduate level. Much has been written about how the United States is at the front edge of a massive and important shift in the demographic composition of the population with the oldest of the baby boom generation now approaching retirement. The challenges of an aging workforce are particularly pressing in the federal government. Thus, a concern for PD&R with respect to staffing, which is true throughout the department, has to do with the challenges of recruiting, developing, and retaining a quality workforce in the face of population aging. Table 2-3 shows the number of PD&R staff eligible for various types of retirement benefit for various years. In 1993-1994, 40 percent of the office’s workforce was eligible for some form of retirement, although only 6 percent of the workforce was immediately eligible to receive full benefits. The other members of PD&R who were eligible in 1993 were eligible for retirement with less than full benefits: either eligible for early retirement with reduced benefits or eligible to take a buyout linked to 25 years of service or age 50 and 20 years of service. The picture both with regard to the number of staff eligible for some form of retirement and the level of retirement that they are currently eligible for has changed remarkably over the past 15 years (see Figure 2-3). As the workforce has aged in place, the percentage of staff eligible for early retirement has fallen from 32 percent in 1993 to 11 percent in 2006, while the percentage of the workforce eligible for normal retirement, i.e., with
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD TABLE 2-3 PD&R Staff Eligible to Retire, by Year Perioda Total Employees Median Ageb Median Serviceb Eligible for Retirementc Total Immediated Earlye Normalf 1991-1992 144 47.5 19.2 3 0 6 9 1992-1993 122 47.3 19.3 2 0 7 9 1993-1994 119 47.7 20.0 2 38 7 47 1994-1995 116 47.8 21.2 2 48 8 58 1995-1996 111 48.6 21.5 3 52 7 62 1996-1997 106 49.9 22.6 4 50 13 67 1997-1998 105 50.6 23.5 2 52 14 68 1998-1999 101 51.7 24.8 2 45 23 70 1999-2000 153 51.5 24.0 3 50 40 93 2000-2001 157 51.4 23.6 3 46 42 91 2001-2002 144 51.8 24.1 4 39 41 84 2002-2003 148 52.1 23.8 4 32 45 81 2003-2004 144 53.3 20.6 6 28 46 80 2004-2005 141 53.3 18.4 7 20 46 73 2005-2006 142 52.8 17.3 7 18 46 71 2006-2007 142 52.1 16.5 8 15 48 71 aThe periods correspond closely to fiscal years. bMeasured at the start of the period. cMeasured at the end of the period. For example, if someone starts the year eligible for early retirement and is eligible for normal retirement by the end of the year, the person is recorded as eligible for normal retirement. dEligible to retire immediately but with reduced benefits. eEssentially eligible to take a buyout: 25 years of service or age 50 and 20 years of service. fCan retire with no reduction in retirement benefits. SOURCE: Unpublished data from HUD, Office of Policy Development and Research. no reduction in Federal Employees Retirement System benefits, has risen from 6 percent in 1993 to 34 percent in 2006. Just since the committee began its work, five senior PD&R staff in headquarters with more than 150 combined years of work experience at HUD have retired. In addition, three field economists with 90 combined years of service at HUD have also retired in the last year. These losses, together with other impending losses of expertise and institutional memory due to further impending retirements, are considerable, and the committee is concerned about the ability of PD&R to continue to provide consistently sound policy advice and research without ensuring that high-quality replacements are able to be recruited and retained.
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD FIGURE 2-3 Percentage of PD&R professional staff eligible for various forms of retirement. SOURCE: Unpublished data from HUD, Office of Policy Development and Research. Budget Whether under Democratic or Republican Presidents or congressional majorities, resources have always been tight for PD&R. Table 2-4 and Figure 2-4 provide a picture of PD&R’s budget in both nominal and real terms over the past 35 years. Real values are expressed in 2006 dollars. Figure 2-4 shows the trend in funds appropriated for research and technology over time. The figure shows a large decline in the level of funding in real terms from the 1970s. PD&R funding hit historically low levels in the mid-1980s, rose slightly in both nominal and real terms in the 1990s, and appears to be holding steady since then. The analysis of any government department’s budget is complicated, however, because of the need to keep straight the differences between authorizations, obligations, appropriations, and outlays; to be cognizant of rescissions and other adjustments; and to factor into any analysis such things as forward funding, specific earmarks, or other obligations. For example, after adjusting for rescissions, the research and technology budget rose in 2006 to $55.79 million, which on paper appears to represent an increase in approximately $10 million over the 2005 allocation of $45.1 million. However, the 2006 budget came with a $20.4 million (later $20.2 million, following a rescission) earmark for OUP. Although fiscal 2006 looks like a year in which research and technology funding went up, in fact,
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD TABLE 2-4 Research and Technology Budgets 1990-2007 (in thousands of dollars) Year Nominal Reala Appropriation OUP PATH R&T Non-PATH R&T (OUP removed) PATH R&T Non-PATH R&T (OUP removed) 1990 20,426 20,426 31,506 1991 28,500 28,500 42,185 1992 25,000 25,000 35,923 1993 23,250 23,250 32,437 1994 36,500 36,500 49,652 1995 41,719 41,719 55,187 1996 34,000 34,000 43,686 1997 34,000 34,000 42,707 1998 36,500 36,500 45,144 1999 47,500 10,000 37,500 12,101 45,378 2000 45,000 10,000 35,000 11,707 40,976 2001 53,382 9,978 43,404 11,358 49,409 2002 50,250 8,750 41,500 9,805 46,506 2003 46,694 7,451 39,243 8,164 42,997 2004 46,723 7,456 39,267 7,957 41,907 2005 45,136 6,944 38,192 7,066 39,526 2006 55,786 20,394 4,950 30,442 4,950 30,442 2007 50,087 20,394 29,693 28,884 aIn 2006 dollars. SOURCE: Unpublished data from HUD, Office of Policy Development and Research. due to the OUP earmark, less money was available for PD&R in 2006 to do policy work, contract research, and data collection than was available the previous year. Table 2-4 highlights the intense budget pressure that PD&R has been under, particularly over the last several years. For example, in 2006, the budget available for PATH-related research was less than half of what it had been in 2000, while the non-PATH-related portion of the research and technology budget fell by more than 40 percent between 2001 and 2006. Compounding the recent budget crunch felt by PD&R is the fact that a substantial proportion of the office’s budget is immediately spoken for every year for such activities as funding the American Housing Survey (AHS), the monthly surveys of housing construction and related activity (see Chapter 7), and other surveys, and providing various support services for the Office of University Partnerships, HUD USER, and the Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse. PD&R typically refers to these expenses as “fixed costs,” although in reality the office has some discretion in how the obligations
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD FIGURE 2-4 Nominal and real dollar values of appropriations for research and technology over time. NOTE: Figures adjusted for rescissions. SOURCE: Unpublished data from HUD, Office of Policy Development and Research.
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD are fulfilled. Nevertheless, a very sizable proportion of the research and technology budget is going directly to support important but nonetheless quite expensive data collection activities, leaving few resources available to fund PD&R’s research, evaluation, and policy studies. Table 2-5 shows the trend in these PD&R costs for 2000-2006. The table is based on obligations rather than appropriations. As noted above, while costs reflect expenses associated with activities that have to be undertaken, PD&R does have some flexibility each year regarding the level at which each of these activities is funded. Consequently, these costs do not rise uniformly over time with inflation but bounce around somewhat, reflecting, among other things, the priority PD&R assigns to a particular task from year to year. Nevertheless, the rising cost of dissemination activities, together with the rising cost of data collection, has resulted in less money being available for non-PATH-related research. To understand the extent to which the budget crunch has constrained the office’s ability to commission high-quality, timely, and useful research, TABLE 2-5 Research and Technology Obligations for Selected PD&R Functions (in thousands of dollars) Year Disseminationa Surveysb Non-PATH External Researchc PATH 2000 3,924 16,897 16,425 8,331 2001 3,530 23,777 18,187 7,779 2002 5,324 24,987 12,243 6,842 2003 5,992 23,899 8,734 3,854 2004 5,180 28,266 11,152 6,273 2005 4,404 26,244 8,379 7,745 2006 5,004 20,350 4,716 3,008d NOTE: Excludes obligations for international activities funded from the U.S. Agency for International Development. aIncludes OUP Clearinghouse, HUD USER Clearinghouse, Regulatory Clearinghouse, and PATH dissemination obligations. bIncludes obligations for all surveys funded through the budget: AHS, Survey of New Home Sales and Housing Completions, Survey of Market Absorption of New Multifamily Units, Survey of New Manufactured (Mobile) Homes Placements, Low Income Housing Tax Credit, Residential Finance Survey. cNet research and technology funding for contracts, cooperative agreements, and interagency agreements (excludes obligations for surveys [e.g., AHS] and support [e.g., HUD User]). dIn FY2006 R&T appropriations, Congress specified that the money set aside for PATH be shifted to the Office of Housing. The money was administered by the Office of Housing, but under the substantive supervision of PD&R staff. There may be some question as to whether these FY2006 PATH funds were obligated by Housing or PD&R. Since they were appropriated to PD&R’s R&T account, for consistency’s sake we include these funds as PD&R obligations as well. SOURCE: Unpublished data from HUD, Office of Policy Development and Research.
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Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD the committee asked PD&R for data on the amount of funding that it was able to make available for non-PATH-related external research by year. Table 2-6 provides these data over time. The figures were developed from hard-copy procurement summaries: Essentially, the data show what was placed under contract (or cooperative agreement or interagency agreement) less what was obligated for surveys and support. The data show a dramatic decline in funding available for external research between 1999 and 2007, both as a result of a decline in the discretionary funding from the research and technology budget and a decline in funding from other sources. In 2007, the total amount of funds obligated for non-PATH-related external research was one-third of what it had been in 1999. For a department that spends more than $36 billion of taxpayer money each year on a variety of housing and community development programs, there is virtually no money available to the one quasi-independent office in the agency charged with evaluating how these program funds are spent, assessing their impact, and researching ways to make programs more efficient and effective. TABLE 2-6 Funds Obligated for External Research, by Year and Source of Funds (in thousands of dollars) Year R&T Funding Other Funding Total 1999 26,198 17,360 43,558 2000 24,756 22,511 47,267 2001 25,966 14,476 40,442 2002 19,085 14,780 33,865 2003 12,588 8,403 20,991 2004 17,425 12,983 30,408 2005 16,124 9,548 25,672 2006 7,724 8,273 15,997 2007 5,465 9,384 14,849 NOTE: The figures are estimates developed by PD&R staff from hard-copy procurement summaries. They show what was placed under contract, cooperative agreement, or interagency agreement less what was obligated for surveys and support. Prior to 1999, it appears that the hard-copy records identify only research and technology procurements, while records since 1999 also reflect research procurement using salaries and expenses money as well as program funds. In 2000, there was a special appropriation to PD&R of $10 million for Central American hurricane relief, which is not reflected here. In the fiscal 2006 research and technology appropriations, Congress specified that the money for PATH be shifted to the Office of Housing. The money was administered by the Office of Housing but under the substantive supervision of PD&R staff. Since the funds were appropriated to PD&R’s research and technology account, for consistency’s sake we include these funds as PD&R obligations. Figures for 2007 are budgeted amounts, and no funding for PATH is included. SOURCE: Unpublished data from HUD, Office of Policy Development and Research.