The Office of Hospital Facilities (OHF) provides mortgage insurance for acute care hospitals. The insurance it provides reduces risk to lenders and lowers borrowing costs for hospitals. As of May 2016, the unpaid principal balance for its 105 insured mortgages was approximately $7 billion.
OHF collects and generates many records to support its mission. These records include application materials, internal reports, and correspondence. Robust records management practices can help OHF protect the financial, legal, and other rights of the Government and the public.
Well-managed records can be used to assess the impact of programs, improve business processes, share knowledge across the Government, and hold officials accountable for their actions.
OHF relied on its employees’ personal judgement of which records to retain for its business needs or to document the legitimacy of an underwriting decision. While OHF may have retained many required records with its current practices, we are concerned that records collected or generated by OHF could be misplaced or improperly destroyed because it did not actively apply a records disposition schedule, it lacked internal policies, and its employees received insufficient training. Additionally, we learned that OHF did not treat emails as records as required by National Archives and Records Administration and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) policies. Finally, OHF could not provide some documents we requested as part of our evaluation. OHF risks not being able to retrieve all records needed for legal or administrative procedures if it does not address these issues.
We also observed that HUD’s records management training content was vague and did not cover Federal records requirements. After taking the training, an employee would not have learned how to properly identify, maintain, and archive Federal records.
We recommend that the Director of OHF (1) develop internal written procedures for records management and (2) ensure that personnel preparing records for archiving are trained to perform this function and aware of all relevant records disposition schedules and policies.
We also recommend that the chief learning officer, in consultation with the Office of Digital Enterprise, offer records management training that incorporates Federal and departmental records management policies and employee records management responsibilities.