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New GAO Reports – Data Transparency, Manufactured Housing

  • DATA TRANSPARENCY: Oversight Needed to Address Underreporting and Inconsistencies on Federal Award Website, GAO-14-476: Published: Jun 30, 2014. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 2014: “Although agencies generally reported required contract information, they did not properly report information on assistance awards (e.g., grants or loans), totaling approximately $619 billion in fiscal year 2012. Specifically, 33 of 37 agencies with a budget authority of at least $400 million reported at least one contract. The other four claimed exemptions from reporting, such as the use of non-appropriated funds, but gaps in Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance make it unclear whether such exemptions are appropriate. Also, agencies reported required information for at least one assistance award for 1,390 of 2,183 programs listed in a federal catalog. Another 451 programs did not make an award subject to reporting. However, agencies did not appropriately submit the required information for the remaining 342 programs, although many reported the information after GAO informed them of the omission. Officials with the Millennium Challenge Corporation said that they could not report because its recipients are foreign. However, OMB’s guidance describes how to report foreign assistance and other agencies report such awards. OMB has taken steps to improve the completeness of assistance awards on the website, including issuing a memorandum in June 2013 directing agencies to ensure that data on are consistent with agency financial records. If properly implemented, these procedures could better ensure that agencies report future assistance awards.”
  • MANUFACTURED HOUSING: Efforts Needed to Enhance Program Effectiveness and Ensure Funding Stability, GAO-14-410: Published: Jul 2, 2014. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 2014: “HUD has established a process for updating the preemptive building standards for manufactured homes known as the HUD Code but has not fully met key purposes of the 2000 Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (2000 Act). Key purposes of the Act include:
    • Establish a balanced, consensus-based process to update manufactured housing construction and safety standards. HUD has not accepted, rejected, or modified any of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee’s recommendations for updating the HUD Code within 1 year of their submission. The 2000 Act requires HUD to act on the committee’s recommended standards within 1 year if they were submitted in the form of a proposed rule with an economic analysis. According to HUD, because the committee did not include economic analyses in the proposals, HUD staff performed this task. They also stated because the proposals lacked the analyses, the Act’s 1-year timeline was not triggered. In some cases, HUD has not decided on recommendations made more than a decade ago and lacks a plan to address the backlog. Meanwhile, some states’ and localities’ residential building codes require standards not in the HUD Code, resulting in post-production upgrades that may increase costs to homeowners. Not updating the HUD Code delays its intended benefit—to improve the quality, durability, safety, and affordability of manufactured homes.
    • Facilitate the availability of affordable manufactured homes. Owners of manufactured homes have lower monthly housing costs than site-built owners and apartment renters, but high financing costs often keep these homes from being even more affordable. HUD’s Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has two insurance programs for manufactured home loans. Although most manufactured homes are titled or owned as personal property, HUD’s programs primarily insure loans on manufactured homes financed as real estate. Additionally, owners of manufactured homes are more likely to have higher-priced financing than owners of site-built homes. The 2000 Act required HUD to review the effectiveness of the FHA programs, but HUD has not developed a plan to do so. Such research would help HUD determine whether and how it might further facilitate the availability of affordable manufactured homes.”

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