HUD praised for use of technology

A new report on management reforms at the Department of Housing and Urban Development said Monday that the oft-maligned agency is effectively using technology to carry out its mission.

The report by Public Strategies Group, an independent consulting group, assessed the impact of the HUD 2020 Management Reform Plan on customers, stakeholders and employees.

It praised HUD's overall progress toward better management and said the department has come a long way from 1998, when it was a "paper-driven organization."

Since then, HUD has introduced information technology solutions such as touch-screen public kiosks and electronic services that deliver front-line and back-office services, investigate fraud and help veterans get housing.

HUD's Web site also has received numerous awards for "empowering citizens and business partners with interactive online services and information related to housing and communities," the report stated.

"HUD has clearly propelled itself into the Information Age in a substantial way," said the report, a follow-up assessment of the HUD 2020 management reform plan.

Even President Clinton had something to say about the agency, which once had a reputation for wasteful programs and pervasive fraud.

"Today, we have a department that has turned itself around and, as this report clearly states, can serve as a role model for al federal agencies," Clinton said.

Nevertheless, HUD is still under fire about its management practices. Earlier this month, Congress criticized the agency over its handling of its information technology budget. Lawmakers said that HUD had improperly transferred IT money to other budgets. As a result, they said, HUD had failed to fully take advantage of the Digital Age.

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