Collaboration helps HUD address problems

WILLIAMSBURG, VA ? The Housing and Urban Development Department has begun to improve its performance by bringing together leaders from different parts of the organization to discuss issues.

The department is now off the Government Accountability Office's high-risk list for the first time since 1994 and scoring well on the annual President's Management Agenda scorecards.

Every Monday morning, a core group meets for a free-ranging discussion about challenges and needs. The core group, which spent this morning telling an audience at the Interagency Resource Management Conference how it has been successful, includes Chief Information Officer Lisa Schlosser, Chief Financial Officer John Cox, Chief Acquisition Officer Joe Neurauter and Assistant Secretary Keith Hudson.

"There's no agenda. There's no plan," said Neurauter. "We just start talking and things come up. It's very free-wheeling."

"Getting all these areas working together is how things get done," said retired General Services Administration official Marty Wagner, who moderated the panel discussion.

The approach seems to be working at HUD. One member of the group can enlist the aid of another in completing a task that cuts across functions. "Instead of something taking six weeks, it can take 30 minutes," Schlosser said.

To institutionalize such practices, Hudson argued for the importance of implementing technologies that facilitate the collaboration. "Nobody is going to come in and say, 'I want to rip that out and go backwards,'" he said.

The group said the collaboration was essential in developing a computer system to reduce HUD's overpayments of subsidies to low-income recipients. The system, developed with the help from the Social Security Administration and the Health and Human Services Department, won IRMCO's team award for the year.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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