Procurement and Other Issues in Public Housing
April 25, 2012 Leave a comment
Calyptus Consulting, in the course of our public sector / private sector procurement work with transit agencies and public housing authorities, has had an opportunity to closely examine some of the particular issues that public housing authorities face.
One need only look at the agenda of the upcoming Public Housing Authorities Directors’ Association conference to see the range of issues being addressed. A recent New York Times story detailed, for instance, the competing issues of overcrowding – and undercrowding – and there have been several other stories in recent weeks and months raising other general or agency-specific issues in public housing.
You may have taken notice of more than one of these stories, and may be wondering what is going on behind the scenes, and what is being done to safeguard taxpayer money while delivering valuable public services.
Calyptus has had the opportunity to work with some of the largest public housing authorities in the country and we deal with a multitude of issues (even regulatory receivership). So we have a unique perspective on this.
What the public citizen and tax payer see most often, of course, are the people and families needing affordable housing, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and its local agencies generally doing their level best, which they do, to provide housing to those in need.
People have much less visibility to the processes, rules and regulations, and procurement actions behind the scenes that make this all happen. These operative aspects of public housing do not come to light until there is a suggestion or allegation of compliance or business practice issues.
Calyptus Consulting deals with these issues regularly. To help public housing agencies (as well as other public sector entities) execute their missions in a sound and effective manner, we have to understand the complex procurement-related rules that govern the public sector.
Government entities are, for example, usually required to develop detailed independent cost estimates prior to initiating procurements. They must also seek competition in their procurements and carefully justify “sole source” purchases (meaning procurements when only one supplier is available and only one solicitation is issued). Government agencies must also develop policies and procedures that ensure compliance with federal and state regulations regarding how to procure goods and services.
Public sector procurement has a host of regulations intended to maintain integrity in the process and the resulting contracts. Procurement is an area that is improved immensely with the help of regular training, assessment, and specialized consulting services. Cost-effective, efficient, compliant and ethical procurement practices are within the reach of any housing authority that recognizes this as a public responsibility and critical investment area for their organization. By complying with federal regulations, housing authorities can ensure that they utilize HUD dollars effectively, minimizing the use of local funds.
Calyptus Consulting is proud to be celebrating 20 years of providing public sector (and private sector) procurement consulting expertise to public housing authorities and a range of public sector and private industry clients. We offer below five key recommendations for housing authorities seeking to improve their procurement operations.
- Robert Eastman and Nick Harris
Calyptus Consulting’s “Top 5″ Recommendations for Public Housing Authorities
Provide continual procurement-specific training for Housing Authority Commissioners, Directors and staff
- Policies and Procedures
Develop, maintain and enforce procurement Policies and Procedures that are current and fully reflect HUD, federal, state, and local regulations
- Organizational Capacity
Ensure that your Agency has culture, organizational structure, roles and responsibilities aligned to perform effectively; where there is doubt, conduct an assessment of these and other human capital measures.
- Documentation, and Contract Administration
Establish a rigorous system for documentation of your procurements and contract administration to ensure compliance and effective contract administration
When this becomes too much to manage, and/or you require Best-in-class procurement practices, consider outsourcing the entire procurement function to Calyptus Consulting or another qualified consultant
- Nick Harris and Robert Eastman
Public Housing links:
- California Association of Housing Authorities, http://www.cahahousing.org/
- Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, http://www.clpha.org/about
- Georgia Association of Housing and Redevelopment Authorities, http://www.gahra.org/
- HUD, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD
- HUDdle, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Official Blog, http://blog.hud.gov/
- Kentucky Housing Association, http://www.kyhousingassn.com/
- Massachusetts Chapter, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), http://massnahro.org/
- Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, http://www.mass.gov/hed/economic/eohed/dhcd/
- National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), http://www.nahro.org/about-nahro