We determined that FHEO could provide more guidance related to FHEO’s performance assessment process to improve its oversight of State and local fair housing enforcement agencies participating in FHAP. The FHAP Division has provided guidance that FHEO regional staff responsible for monitoring and overseeing FHAP agency performance (HUD reviewers) does not consistently follow. Additionally, although all HUD reviewers work from the same performance standards, individual reviewers sometimes apply the standards in different ways. HUD reviewers expressed a desire for more definitive guidance as to what level of compliance was acceptable and concrete examples of what constituted compliance and noncompliance.
Other opportunities exist for the FHAP Division to provide enhanced guidance and training. Although FHEO provides training, nearly all HUD reviewers and regional directors we spoke with requested more training. At the time of our fieldwork, HUD reviewers had not had access to refresher training on conducting PARs in more than year. The most recent PAR-specific refresher training was in July 2020. The FHAP Division held its most recent training for new reviewers in January 2021.
Another area in which the FHAP Division can enhance guidance is through performance improvement plans (PIP). FHEO can use PIPs to improve FHAP agencies’ performance after determining that the agency is not meeting a performance standard. Regulation allows regional offices discretion in applying PIPs. However, during our period of review, regional offices often did not place FHAP agencies with repeat deficiencies on PIPs. The FHAP Division leaves the management of FHAP agency performance to the regions, and FHEO regional directors use different criteria when deciding to issue a PIP. The FHAP Division can issue stricter guidance clarifying when regional directors are expected to place a FHAP agency on a PIP.