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We audited the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Greensboro, NC, Office of Public Housing as part of a nationwide audit of HUD’s oversight of environmental reviews.  We selected the Greensboro Office based on our risk assessment.  Our audit objectives were to determine whether the Greensboro Office of Public Housing ensured that it performed the required reviews and did not release funds until all requirements were met and required documents were submitted.

The Greensboro Office did not follow environmental requirements at 24 CFR Part 50 when it determined compliance with National Environmental Policy Act of 1969-related laws and authorities for the 126 public housing agencies in its jurisdiction.  Specifically, it did not properly evaluate environmental conditions or maintain required documentation, and may have allowed a housing agency to circumvent requirements.  This condition occurred because the Greensboro Office did not have adequate standard operating procedures and its staff was not adequately trained to ensure environmental compliance.  As a result, the Greensboro Office may have increased the risk to the health and safety of public housing agency residents and the general public and may have failed to prevent or eliminate damage to the environment.  Further, the Greensboro Office approved 126 housing agencies to spend more than $180 million, including more than $83 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, on projects that did not have a proper environmental review or the environmental reviews were not adequately supported.

We recommend that the Greensboro Office implement policies and procedures to ensure that public housing agencies comply with public notification requirements at 24 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Part 58 or Part 50.  To correct systemic weaknesses identified in this report, we will make recommendations to HUD headquarters in an upcoming nationwide audit report.