IRMCO honors Katrina work, income data system

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — A manager of public housing reconstruction in Louisiana and a team that created a cross-agency data reuse system earned awards today from the Interagency Resource Management Conference (IRMCO).

C. Donald Babers, deputy regional director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Field Policy Management, won for his oversight of the government’s recovery and reconstruction of housing for people in New Orleans affected by Hurricane Katrina. Babers oversaw the government’s assessment of property damage to the city’s housing projects in the disaster area. He also followed up with a contract to clean the sites and managed the issuing of disaster housing vouchers, which were awarded to people without housing at a competitive market rate.

To meet housing needs, Babers also helped with the complex financing of five major housing projects exceeding more than $700 million and helped win approval for tax credits and bond funding for the projects.

IRMCO’s team award went to HUD’s Enterprise Income Verification Systems team. The Social Security Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services, and HUD designed the system, which reused Social Security data to build a computer matching program that gathers information on wages, job status and Social Security benefits. It took information from the SSA database to check people’s incomes to verify their eligibility to get HUD funding.

The system decreased improper payments by 61 percent, from $3.2 billion to $1.2 billion. The system also reduced payments to people who reported less money than they actually made. Tenant underreporting dropped 73 percent because the agencies reused the money.

Ultimately, the system made HUD the first agency to earn a green score, the top ranking on the President’s Management Agenda, for decreasing improper payments.

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