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Our evaluation processes adhere to the Quality Standards for Inspection and Evaluation. These processes take place in four phases: (1) planning, (2) fieldwork, (3) reporting, and (4) resolution, which are diagramed and discussed below.

Our goal is to always provide sufficient, competent, and relevant information timely. To meet the timeliness standard, Office of Evaluation (OE) has and will deviate from the described steps to meet the needs of a particular evaluation. We communicate any deviations with the office under review.

  • Stage 1: Planning
  • Identify Issue
  • Create Study Design
  • Notify HUD
  • Entrance Conference with HUD
  • Stage 2: Fieldwork
  • Collect Evidence
  • Analyze Evidence
  • Internal Review and Approval
  • Working Draft to HUD
  • Stage 3: Reporting
  • Exit Conference With HUD
  • Draft Report to HUD
  • HUD Comments on Draft
  • Final Report
  • Stage 4: Resolution
  • HUD Provides a Management Decision
  • OIG Must Agree to the Management Decision
  • HUD Implements Recommendation
  • OIG Closes Recommendation

An evaluation typically begins with a concern submitted to us from Office of Inspector General senior leadership, through a congressional request letter, from departmental officials, based on a hotline complaint, or through referrals from other Office of Inspector General components. Additionally, we also self-initiate evaluations based on research of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs. Also, we conduct evaluations that laws or regulations mandate, such as our annual evaluation of the HUD’s compliance with the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014, or FISMA.

Evaluations almost exclusively have a broad – that is a departmental or entire agency or program – focus. Although an evaluation may focus on a specific location (e.g., the Alexander County Housing Authority (ACHA)), the evaluation itself focuses on the actions of HUD (e.g., HUD’s oversight of ACHA) rather than the specific entity.

After we receive or identify an issue, OE assembles a team to work on the evaluation. The team creates evaluation objectives and a plan, which we call a study design, for achieving the objective(s). The design will guide the team’s work throughout the evaluation but it may be changed to account for new information. The design is reviewed internally and approved for sharing with HUD.

The Assistant Inspector General (AIG) shares the design, along with a notification letter, with the appropriate HUD agency or agencies. We work with the agency to set up an entrance conference to describe the evaluation process, along with the requirements and expectations for HUD; discuss the planned evaluation work; establish points of contact; and request documents we need for the evaluation.

With the entrance conference completed, the evaluation team transitions to the fieldwork phase. As needed, the team will conduct onsite fieldwork. However, the bulk of evaluation fieldwork occurs at our central offices. During fieldwork, we collect evidence through interviews with departmental officials and by reviewing documents. We then analyze this evidence to identify areas where HUD can improve. Using the evidence and our analysis, we create draft findings. A finding is a system of logic that describes the performance under review and answers the evaluation objective(s).

Using the assembled data, the team shares draft findings via a story conference with other members of OE and subject matter experts from within the Office of Inspector General, as appropriate. The intent of the story conference is to determine whether the findings are complete and compelling. Story conference participants are encouraged to ask tough questions about the data collected and the proposed findings and the resultant recommendations. If the story conference indicates more fieldwork is needed, the team completes that fieldwork. Otherwise, the team writes up its findings and recommendations into a working draft report using the findings it has developed. The working draft report concludes the fieldwork phase.

We create a working draft report to share our tentative findings and recommendations with HUD, and to solicit feedback from HUD officials. While we are always receptive to the views of HUD officials, we retain the independence of and control over our work at every stage. The AIG sends the working draft report to the appropriate agency or agencies, and the team schedules an exit conference with HUD officials.

At the exit conference, the team presents the findings and recommendations and requests preliminary feedback from the agency. If the agency is able to provide compelling reasons why any information presented in the working draft may not be complete or compelling, the team will take those observations under consideration. The team also presents the agency an opportunity to provide any additional written comments on the report within 5 days of the exit conference. The intent of these comments is to ensure the technical accuracy of the report information before it is shared with HUD as a draft report.

Approximately 5 days after the exit conference, the AIG sends the draft report to the agency for formal review and comment. We typically give the agency 30 days or less to provide formal written comments on the report. These comments are included in the report, along with our response, and packaged into a final report. We issue the final report to HUD, share with members of Congress as appropriate, and then post the report to our website within 3 days.

The final evaluation phase is the recommendation resolution process. In this phase, we coordinate with HUD officials to reach consensus on how to resolve the recommendations. Agency officials propose a management decision for our consideration. We work with HUD to reach an agreeable management decision within HUD’s goal of 120 days of report issuance. HUD’s goal is 120 days to ensure that any impasses can be resolved before reaching 180 days – the legal requirement for reaching a management decision. If we are unable to reach a management decision, we elevate the recommendation to higher-ranking officials within HUD.

HUD also has a goal to have all corrective actions completed within 1 year of the management decision. However, some recommendations require more than 1 year for completion. In those instances, and as appropriate, we agree to a longer final action period. OE uses formal memorandums to communicate with the agency to track progress on the recommendations. Typically, we check in with the agency every 90 days. Once corrective actions are taken to resolve a recommendation, and HUD has provided sufficient supporting evidence, our office closes the recommendation and notifies the agency via memorandum. If the agency is not making timely progress on resolving the recommendation, we elevate the recommendation to higher-ranking officials within HUD. The status of all OE-made recommendations are reported Semiannual Reports to Congress.