In keeping with the agency’s goal to transform the way HUD does business and become a more responsive, customer-centered, place-based organization, the Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) is seeking your opinion on its PIH program guidance. Specifically, how effective and useful is it? Is it delivered in appropriate formats? Is it consistent? How can it be improved?
Below are some draft PIH guidance principles, like quality and integrity, which PIH should follow when issuing program guidance. Please give some thought to the questions above and principles below, then head on over to HUD Ideas in Action to submit your ideas!
Any guidance issued by the Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) should adhere to the following key principles:
PIH Guidance must meet Customer Needs.
From a business perspective, PIH guidance is an information product to be used by customers to more effectively administer HUD programs in accordance with federal requirements. As with any product, the needs of the customer must govern. Guidance that does not meet customer needs is, by definition, ineffective as an information product.
“Customer,” in this instance, should be viewed broadly to include any entity that relies on PIH guidance. This generally includes external customers, such as PHAs that administer HUD programs, owners and families that are impacted by HUD programs, as well as industry groups and the general public. However, in some situations customers could be internal, such as Field Offices and HUD staff that rely on PIH guidance to assist in oversight of HUD programs.
PIH guidance must meet HUD standards of Quality, Objectivity, Utility and Integrity.
PIH guidance must adhere to the requirements of the “HUD Final Information Quality Guidelines”, issued on November 18, 2002 (67 FR 69642). Specifically, the guidelines address the need to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information disseminated to the public by HUD. This includes ensuring that all PIH guidance is internally reviewed and vetted, as appropriate, before issuance.
These “quality guidelines” are targeted to guidance disseminated to the public. However, the basic principles of quality, objectivity, utility and integrity apply to any information issued as “guidance”.
In addition to concepts discussed above, what are some other characteristics of good guidance?
Most guidance is prompted by some “triggering event” – a statute, rule, initiative, etc. – that requires additional clarification or explanation. To be effective, supporting guidance must be available at the point it will be needed by the customer.
Ready Availability and Accessibility
Customers need to be aware that guidance is available and should be able to access this guidance quickly and efficiently. No matter how well-crafted the guidance, if it’s not available and accessible, it’s not effective.
By definition, good guidance must be accurate. In this respect, accurate guidance must be relevant to the issue or triggering event it is meant to address. Guidance should supplement and expand on the relevant issue and not contradict it or lead the customer to conclusions or actions that are inconsistent with the triggering event.
Precision (On Target)
Good guidance must be relevant to its customers. It should meet an identified need for an identified customer base. Before developing and issuing guidance, PIH should have a clear idea of the audience for the guidance and the customer need to be met.
Good guidance must be consistent with and not contradictory of other existing HUD guidance (whether inside or outside of PIH). This requires an awareness of other pre-existing guidance and an awareness of the specific need to be addressed. A related issue is the need for guidance to be non-duplicative of accurate and clear guidance that already exists.
Proper Format and Vehicle
Good guidance must be delivered to the customer in the appropriate format and via the appropriate method. Guidance can take many forms – handbook, guidebook, PIH notice, web posting, etc., as well as information delivered via training, conference call, web, email or other methods. PIH must consider the most effective method by which the guidance product should be delivered.
Stakeholder Input / Customer Feedback
Successful products are never produced in a vacuum. Good guidance should seek input from internal and external stakeholders to ensure it meets customer needs and integrates well with other existing or emerging policies, procedures, systems, or initiatives. Consumers of PIH guidance need an avenue to provide feedback on the extent to which PIH is meeting the principles outlined in this document, as well as areas where guidance is inadequate or lacking. This requires an established and ongoing process for communication with and solicitation of feedback from stakeholders and customers.