Todd M. Richardson, Evaluation Officer, Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), issues a policy statement articulating the core principles and practices of HUD's evaluation and research activities.
Evaluation activity occurs in several offices at HUD, but the special mission of HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) is to inform HUD policy development and implementation to improve life in American communities through conducting, supporting, and sharing research, surveys, demonstrations, program evaluations, and best practices. Within HUD, PD&R is responsible for most, but not all, program evaluations. The office provides reliable and objective data and analysis to help inform policy decisions.
In July 2016, GAO issued a report entitled “Department of Housing and Urban Development: Actions Needed to Incorporate Key Practices into Management Functions and Program Oversight,” (GAO 16-497) in which GAO presented a broad assessment of HUD's management of its operations and programs. In the report, GAO examined HUD efforts to: (1) Meet Federal requirements and implement key practices for management functions, including performance planning and reporting and human capital, financial, acquisition, and information technology (IT) management; and (2) oversee and evaluate programs.
PD&R is the primary office within HUD responsible for data analysis, research, program evaluations, and policy studies that inform the development and implementation of programs and policies across HUD offices. PD&R undertakes program evaluations, often by using a process that includes convening expert panels. However, GAO found that PD&R had neither developed agency-wide, written policies for its program evaluations, nor documented the criteria used to select the expert panels and review the quality of program evaluations.
On December 6, 2016 (81 FR 87949), HUD issued a policy statement in the Federal Register responding to the GAO report by setting out the core principles and practices of PD&R's evaluation and research activities. This statement incorporated some language from a policy statement by the Office of Policy, Research, and Evaluation of the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
On January 14, 2019, the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (“Evidence Act”), Public Law 115-435, was enacted. Section 101 of the Evidence Act created 5 U.S.C. 311-315 and mandated that the head of each agency appoint an Evaluation Officer, including at HUD. This officer must establish common standards for all HUD evaluations, whether performed by PD&R or another office. This issuance articulates department-wide evaluation standards and states other new principles based on PD&R's experience since the 2016 publication.
Section 101 of the Evidence Act defines “evaluation” to mean “an assessment using systematic data collection and analysis of one or more programs, policies, and organizations intended to assess their effectiveness and efficiency.”
HUD has identified the following core principles and practices as fundamental to ensuring high-quality and consistent evaluation results: Rigor, relevance, transparency, independence, ethics, and technical innovation. This policy applies to all HUD-sponsored evaluations and regulatory impact analyses; they also apply to the selection of projects, contractors, and HUD staff that are involved in evaluations.
HUD Program Evaluation Policy Statement: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/08/13/2021-17339/hud-program-evaluation-policy-policy-statement
Current and completed PD&R research projects: https://www.huduser.gov/portal/about/PDR-Research.html#ongoingResearch
HUD’s Learning Agenda FY 2022–2026: https://www.huduser.gov/portal/about/pdr_learningagenda.html
GAO, "Department of Housing and Urban Development: Actions Needed to Incorporate Key Practices into Management Functions and Program Oversight," GAO-16-497, July 2016 https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-16-497