HUD's blueprint guides investments
- By Mary Mosquera
- Jul 14, 2004
'The big thing that enterprise architects can do is give you a broader picture.'
'HUD Chief Architect Richard Burk
Henrik G. de Gyor
The Housing and Urban Development Department is taking a methodical ap-proach to IT investment, in an effort to ensure that the information systems it develops match its enterprise architecture and operations.
HUD is working to improve its programs for public housing and the voucher program for multifamily Section 8 housing through its enterprise architecture.
For example, the department is creating a blueprint of the business lines it operates for assistance to low-income renters and the systems it uses to support them.
HUD's enterprise architecture reveals what is similar and what is unique among the programs. With that information, HUD will decide whether to purchase a new integrated system or expand its existing systems with the most common elements for the programs.
'We developed a blueprint, the segment architecture. It has certain components, a business model, and information flows, and some defined projects,' said Richard Burk, HUD's chief architect.
The architecture presented Burk and his team with the challenge: Could HUD develop a system that applies its grants management system to its operations in managing public housing and multifamily Section 8 housing?
The department plans to commission a business process re-engineering study of its rental-housing assistance programs in September to help flesh out the requirements and functions of such a system. 'The study will take it from the 30,000-foot level and get it down to something that is very tangible, that is, these sets of systems will be collapsed into this system. Or these sets of functions will be carried out by this kind of system,' he said.
The study will develop a picture of the housing program's business lines. Then, the department can zero in on developing the software and systems to meet that need.Sharing components
The re-engineering study, scheduled to be completed next spring, will help guide HUD's IT investments for the next three to five years, Burk said. The study will examine how HUD conducts its rental-housing assistance programs and what they have in common. It would evaluate how similar programs are conducted elsewhere and adopt practices that make them more efficient.
'There are component parts, such as a resource allocation component, that is very similar to competitive grants,' he said. By identifying such similarities, HUD can consider sharing the resource allocation component with the housing assistance programs.
But the assistance programs have unique elements. For example, rental-housing assistance is the only program that calculates allocation of funds to housing authorities and private owners based on the individual's income and the fair-market rent in that area.
'We have to develop a piece of software for that component that works in conjunction with the elements of the resource allocation that are common to all grant programs,' Burk said.
At the back end, HUD already has a set of systems for oversight and monitoring, the Real Estate Assessment Center, which tracks the department's rental assets around the country.
'We want to explore if it is applicable to grants oversight and monitoring. There may be component parts that are, and we certainly don't want to replicate them and invest more money in oversight if we have the ability to cover a substantial portion of it already,' Burk said.
Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.