On July 24, 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Inspector General (OIG), issued a report on HUD’s oversight of the Alexander County Housing Authority (ACHA) in Cairo, IL. The report concluded that HUD could and should have done more to oversee the decade-long deteriorating conditions at ACHA.
Due to the time between the events under review and our fieldwork, some HUD officials could not recall specific dates, individuals involved, and actions taken over the course of their involvement with ACHA. To bridge this information gap, we requested that HUD provide us with the contents of several officials’ email accounts and storage drives. Our goal was to determine what these officials knew and communicated about ACHA at the time the issues occurred there.
We requested these data in November 2017, and HUD produced nearly 50 gigabytes worth of data in June 2018, a month before our planned release of the July 2018 report. We decided to continue with the release of our report without a review of the electronic data to ensure that the report’s issuance was not further delayed. This memorandum conveys the results of our review of the relevant emails and documents contained in the data we received.
Of the approximately 1.2 million emails received, dating from January 1, 2011, through December 31, 2017, we selected 142,082 for review. The contents of these emails further supported the findings and recommendations in our report. Specifically, HUD officials had been aware of gross mismanagement at ACHA for years, but senior leadership within the Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) hesitated to place it into receivership because they believed they lacked a sufficiently strong, documented administrative record of problems there. The emails confirmed that after ACHA violated a voluntary compliance agreement (VCA) and pressure mounted in the HUD and PIH front offices, PIH senior officials considered receivership.
Associated Report: https://www.hudoig.gov/reports-publications/inspections-evaluations/huds-oversight-alexander-county-housing-authority