Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is Open Government?

The three principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration form the cornerstone of a more open government. Transparency promotes accountability by providing the public with information about what the Government is doing. Participation allows the public to contribute ideas and expertise so that their government can make policies with the benefit of information that is widely dispersed in society. Collaboration improves the effectiveness of Government by encouraging partnerships and cooperation within the Federal Government, across levels of government, and between the Government and private institutions.

Q2. How does Open Government encourage innovation at HUD?

Innovation is about finding a new way to make something better, which happens by looking beyond the walls of government to identify and foster new ideas. HUD's open government initiatives enable innovation by facilitating transparency, participation, and collaboration. Innovation, in return, helps HUD more effectively fulfill its mission by tapping into a broader pool of ideas, expertise, and energy to solve critical challenges. By continuing to be innovative, HUD can more effectively deliver services in support of homelessness prevention, fair housing, rental assistance, and community planning.

Q3. What is HUD's Strategy to help achieve Innovation and further the principles of Open Government?

HUD's Open Government Plan fosters opportunities for new learning, new ideas, and more effective interactions among the public, other stakeholders, and HUD. By building partnerships HUD can foster new ideas that hold great potential for unlocking major breakthroughs that improve HUD's performance as well as government as a whole. One way HUD facilitates the generation of innovative ideas is through the release of high-value datasets that allow for new views and applications. In addition to data released on, the public can find additional data and mashups on HUD also embraces social networking technology, such as Facebook and Twitter, and uses a wide range of communications tools to more effectively enable participation, collaboration and engagement.

Additionally HUD recognizes that open government is more than simply discussions and information sharing - it is about generating and adopting good ideas resulting in more responsive, cost efficient, proactive services to the citizen. In order to cultivate a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative environment, HUD is reaching out to its employees and external stakeholders to obtain feedback using HUD's wiki and Ideas in Action. HUD has also recently created an Innovation Lab to accelerate the development and implementation of good ideas so that the benefits to HUD and its communities are realized sooner.

Q4. How does HUD's wiki, Ideas in Action and Innovation Lab support HUD's Innovation and Open Government objectives?

HUD's wiki, Ideas in Action, and Innovation Lab are built upon the Open Government foundation of transparency, collaboration and participation to ensure that the voices of HUD's diverse communities of interest are heard, considered and acted upon effectively. Having an idea is just one part of doing something great. The other part is turning that idea into reality. Together, HUD's wiki, Ideas in Action and Innovation Lab are dynamic catalysts for collaboration to aid HUD's employees and customers.

Q5. What is the difference between HUD's wiki, Ideas in Action and the Innovation Lab?

HUD's wiki, Ideas in Action, and the Innovation Lab work together to provide the building blocks for innovation:
  • HUD's wiki - is designed to create communities of interest around HUD's mission to sustain homeownership, support community development, and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination.
  • Ideas in Action - is a customer feedback tool to solicit input from public and internal stakeholders around specific topics or questions. It allows people to come together, share ideas in response to a specific question, discuss those ideas, and vote the best ones to the top for consideration by HUD.
  • Innovation Lab - provides an independent resource where ideas that align with HUD's Strategic Plan and the principals of open government are developed and tested for rapid implementation to provide essential value to HUD's various communities.

Participate, Collaborate and Engage

Q6. Which social media tool can I use to engage with HUD?

HUD seeks to bring you the information you need in whatever way is best for you. The Department employs a variety of social media platforms, from Twitter to Facebook and the HUD blog. We integrate the different tools that are available, so no matter how you engage with HUD, you're provided with the same opportunity to participate and engage. As a result, there is no "best way" to follow HUD on social media - there's "your way." HUD's social media tools also present new ways for employees to engage with each other and the customers they serve.

Q7. Will HUD respond to every question and comment that gets submitted?

We make every effort to communicate with the public, including our employees, and provide feedback given the sheer volume of submissions. It takes just one good idea to make a difference and we are committed to considering and acting upon ideas that align with the goals in HUD's Strategic Plan and reporting where they stand in the innovation process in a transparent manner. HUD is currently working to adopt new tools to allow it to better communicate with the public and provide timely feedback for their contributions.

Q8. Can just anyone see or use this forum?

Most discussion forums on the site are open to the public. However, there are "employees only" forums, which are only open to employees of HUD. If you are a HUD employee, you can access these forums by signing up for UserVoice with your email address. No email addresses will be displayed on the site. Users can only be identified by their usernames, which they create when signing up.

Q9. What is your moderation policy for the website?

Our moderation policy is under our Terms of Participation.

Q10. What is your privacy policy?

Learn more about our privacy policy.

Request and Explore HUD Data

Q11. How is HUD data selected for publication on, or other public sites?

HUD has a process in place to identify high-value datasets that balances mission priorities with public demand for interesting and useful applications that arm citizens with the information they need to make decisions every day. In support of HUD's mission and the goals of Open Government, HUD is considering establishing a participatory and collaborative platform that will allow people to make recommendations on data from across the Agency that should be shared.

Q12. Can I request the release of specific data?

Many HUD documents are already available on the website and a broad array of information is accessible through the Freedom of Information Act (ACT) in the Frequently Requested Materials and E-FOIA Reading Room. Recommendations for new research to help the Secretary and other principal staff make informed decisions on HUD policies, programs, and budget and legislative proposals can be submitted to the HUD USER forum or you can make a specific request on, which will relay it back to HUD.

Innovation at HUD

Q13. How does HUD review ideas and determine which ideas to pursue?

All ideas that are submitted to HUD are evaluated for impact level, strategic fit, ease of implementation, time to implement, and cost effectiveness. Each program office that manages an ideation forum is committed to responding to every idea it receives. The ideas that are most likely to be pursued are ones that are clearly articulated: they should include a statement of the problem, a proposed solution, and the possible benefits of the solution. If the idea comes to HUD through a voting forum like Ideas in Action, ideas that are top vote getters are weighted heavily in the review process.

Q14. What are the different pathways HUD uses to implement "good" ideas?

Recognizing the benefits of innovation to help accomplish mission requirements, HUD has established formal channels to enable ideation and implementation. Ideas that are legal, align with HUD's strategic plan, and that directly increase the effectiveness of the agency's operations can be submitted to Ideas in Action for consideration by HUD. Qualifying ideas that meet specific criteria may be deemed suitable for admittance to the Innovation Lab for rapid testing and transformation into real solutions. Ideas that come in through Ideas in Action, where HUD employees and the public can provide feedback around specific topics or questions, may:
  • Get directly implemented by Program Offices within HUD independently or as a component of a larger Program Office solution; or
  • Get accepted into the Innovation Lab and receive supplemental funds, resources, and support via external partnerships if they are strategically aligned and implementation would otherwise be prevented or constrained by a lack of resources.
HUD is committed to improving the delivery of its mission to better serve the American people. Through Ideas in Action and the Innovation Lab, HUD empowers both employees and the public with tools to facilitate the exchange and development of new ideas.

Q15. How can I find out the status of my idea after its submitted?

The public will be able to track ideas that are admitted into the Innovation lab on an online Innovation Lab dashboard. The system will display a short summary of the idea, the HUD program area that sponsored the idea and the status of the idea.

Q16. Will I get credit if you implement my idea?

Rewarding and acknowledging employees who come up with innovative ideas is critical. The HUD Innovation and Open Government team will consistently seek to publicly recognize employees who generate new ideas. As ideas from Ideas in Action are approved for implementation, both the idea and the creator are recognized for their contribution to the agency.

HUD's Innovation Lab

Q17. What is the purpose of the Innovation Lab?

The innovation lab - independently resourced and with an established innovation discipline - increases the chance that ideas that support HUD's Strategic Plan and Open Government goals can find the light of day, can grow and be tested, and can begin providing essential value to HUD communities.

HUD's Innovation Lab brings together dedicated resources, tools, and techniques that may not otherwise be available to accelerate the development of solutions more efficiently than other available approaches. The Lab is participatory, collaborative and fosters transparency by showing the idea submission process on an electronic dashboard which ensures that HUD employees receive proper credit and attribution for their good ideas.

Q18. How is the Innovation Lab different than Ideas in Action?

Ideas in Action is the foundation for HUD's internal innovation community. We're further strengthening our commitment to changing the way HUD does business by providing a new channel through the Innovation Lab for the very best ideas to become reality. Ideas that originate from Ideas in Action may:
  • Get directly implemented by Program Offices within HUD independently or as a component of a larger Program Office solution; or
  • Get accepted into the Innovation Lab and receive supplemental funds, resources, and support via internal and external partnerships
Ideas in Action is an excellent tool for collaboration and a source of potentially feasible ideas that the Innovation Lab will reference for ideas to be developed into tangible solutions to meet an agency-wide or mission-specific challenge. Together, Ideas in Action and the Innovation Lab represent a new frontier in innovation at HUD.