HUD on the move with e-gov

HUD on the move with e-gov

BY PREETI VASISHTHA | GCN STAFF

A portal that will serve as a one-stop shop for low- and moderate-income families and individuals to get information on buying a home is one of the Housing and Urban Development Department's major electronic-government initiatives.



Who's In Charge


Gloria Parker

Chief Information Officer


Karen Jackson

Deputy CIO


Scott Cragg

Deputy CIO for Information Technology
Operations


Debra Stouffer

Deputy CIO for IT Reform


Donna Eden

Director for Investment Strategies Policy
and Management


Mark McCloy

Director for IT Reform


Gail Scott

Director for Central Information Management


Pam Woodside

Director for Systems Integration and
Efficiency


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Lockheed Martin Corp.$161.54
Advanced Technology Systems87.66
Accenture LLP34.43
Aspen Systems Corp.26.05
Deloitte & Touche LLP12.00
Computer Sciences Corp.9.02
Brown & Company CPAS PLC9.00
DP Service LLC8.72
Management Technology Inc.8.14
American Management Systems Inc.7.91
Total$364.47
www.hud.gov



Sources for Inside HUD include the Federal Data Procurement System and Input of Chantilly, Va.
The project will pull together information from local and national content providers for users to search for homes, access financial tools, receive information and news, and find local assistance, according to HUD's Electronic Government Strategic Plan Fiscal Years 2001-2005.

The First-Time Homebuyers portal is one of the department's short-term, citizen-related initiatives. The plan is to begin implementing the portal this year, finishing it by 2003. Currently, HUD has more than 75 e-government projects under way.

The portal will expand HUD's current Homebuyer's Kit and other programs, such as One Million Homes, to make the tools more interactive.

HUD officials declined to comment on the details of the portal or any department programs. Public affairs officers said HUD officials would not discuss the project because of the Bush administration transition.

Among other HUD initiatives targeted at citizens is the Rent.HUD.gov portal.

Modeled after commercial sites such as apartmentsearch.com and rent.net, the HUD portal would provide rental assistance and function as a national inventory for the department's public housing and voucher-recipient units, the plan said.

People seeking subsidized housing would be able to search the portal for rental units and get information on availability, pricing and amenities. Users would be able to build personal profiles to store and use repeatedly, reducing data entry.

An extension of the planned portal is the eVouchers system. Through it, low- and moderate-income families would be able to apply online or via telephone for Section 8 vouchers. The Section 8 program helps poor, elderly and disabled people pay for housing.

The system would determine eligibility and subsidy amounts after verifying applicants' income information.

An online process

The entire application and approval process would be conducted online.

Based on the Priceline.com model, which lets customers name their own prices for products, and the similar LendingTree.com model for the loan market, HUD plans to let prospective homebuyers post their interests in a home and let sellers and brokers contact them to foster competition in home sales.

The initiative would go a step further by letting users create profiles of their desired homes to be matched against listed homes for sale, the HUD plan noted.

A user would then have the option to buy a house directly rather than going through a broker to buy a HUD-owned property.

Federal overseers are watching HUD's ambitious e-government and systems efforts closely.

So far, so good. The General Accounting Office said the department has taken steps to improve its information and financial systems, which the watchdog agency earlier had designated as high-risk.

HUD is developing an information technology management process to improve and strengthen the selection and evaluation of its IT projects, GAO said in a January report, Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Though the department has determined that its financial systems do not meet all of its needs, GAO said it's too early to tell whether HUD will be successful in its attempt to deploy an integrated financial system.

Major Programs
' HUD Information Technology Service. Through this contract, HUD would have a central vehicle for data processing and management, data recovery, printing and distribution, LAN communications, LAN and PC maintenance, WAN services, videoconferencing and Web site administration. The agency is working on the request for proposal. HITS would replace the HUD Integrated Information Processing Service contract.


' HUD E-Maps. A free Internet service, E-Maps combines information about HUD's community development and housing programs with environmental data gathered by the Environmental Protection Agency. Users can get information about HUD-funded facilities in neighborhoods across the country.


' Connecting with HUD. To promote consistency across online services, the department is working with its business partners to connect their Web sites and information with HUD's online applications. For instance, the Rent.HUD.gov initiative involves developing search and information retrieval capabilities across all public housing authorities and voucher-recipient business partners.


' Online Work Applications. HUD will set partnerships with vendors to develop basic computer applications that assist HUD partners in providing services to the public. For example, public housing authorities need systems to accept tenant applications online, process them, inform applicants of their status and monitor resolutions.


Standardized apps also would let HUD partners better track and manage maintenance requests from their tenants.

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