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Strengthening Open Government at HUD

HUD's Open Government Plan is a roadmap that describes how the Department will utilize open government as one of its many tools to enable the implementation of its strategic plan. This Open Government Plan reflects the input of HUD's senior policy, legal, and technology leadership, as well as the general public.

Aligning Open Government with HUD's Strategic Goals

At the core of HUD's Open Government Plan is the alignment of open government activities to HUD's strategic goals. The Department realizes that in order to fully achieve performance improvements from open government efforts and maintain sustained commitment to increasing transparency, public participation, and collaboration, open government objectives need to be integrated into to HUD's strategic goals.

Within HUD's program areas, there have been innovations in transparency, engagement, and collaboration that have helped with mission delivery. Some of these existing and ongoing initiatives are documented in Chapters 4, 5, and 6 of this plan. Although strides have been made, there are always new innovations to apply to mission delivery.

During the development of this plan, HUD worked with each of its mission areas to develop a concept of open government that was applicable and relevant not only to HUD's strategic goals but also to HUD's customers. As depicted in the Executive Summary, the result is a series of open government initiatives that have been developed with the express intent of enabling the delivery of HUD's strategic plan.

HUD's Customers and Stakeholders

 

HUD Facts:

  • Over 9 million people live in Federally assisted housing
  • Around 4.5 million are children
  • Around 1 million are seniors


HUD's mission puts it in direct contact with a significant portion of the population. Its customers are a diverse group of individuals and families that all have unique needs, tastes, and preferences. Its partners and stakeholders range from community based non-profits and good governance groups to state, local, and tribal housing authorities.

This Open Government Plan was developed not only for HUD's most obvious stakeholders, but also an extended collection of stakeholders to include academic researchers, private businesses, and citizens that may not currently utilize HUD's services. The Department recognizes that each group has its own needs for transparency, engagement, and collaboration.

Open Government Value Proposition

The primary goal in HUD's Open Government Plan is to leverage open government to improve mission delivery. One of the primary values of open government is properly utilizing the vast ingenuity and creativity of the public to generate ideas that can help government more efficiently serve the people. The public, given the right tools, can help the government identify the most pressing areas for transformation and the public can help generate ideas to solve problems. Challenges including homelessness, fair housing, rental assistance, and community planning can be more effectively overcome by tapping into the talent and energies of the public.

By introducing open government initiatives that tie directly to HUD's strategic plan, HUD can (1) enhance mission performance and results through the identification of inefficient activities or processes; (2) leverage the public's knowledge and experience to identify new innovations or opportunities; and (3) create a stronger relationship between HUD and the American public.

Benefits of Open Government to HUD

HUD will develop a robust performance measurement methodology that properly captures the monetary and non-monetary benefits that it will receive from its open government activities. This will include the use of a balanced scorecard to capture benefits and performance, and to identify areas that may need further improvement. Some key performance indicators may include items like:

  • The number of projects or programs that have utilized the public's feedback to address mission performance
  • Effects of these comments on mission performance
  • The number of comments received and adjudicated (as a percentage)

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and HUD will continuously engage with its program areas in further detail to identify relevant performance metrics that may be unique to each area.

Open Government Methodology

HUD's Open Government Plan development followed a comprehensive methodology that looked holistically at its current policy, cultural, and technology environments. This will enable HUD's open government activities to be frequently revised to adapt to changing operating environments.

HUD's Open Government Framework Significant Stakeholders

HUD has adopted a comprehensive lifecycle management approach to help identify and plan for its open government initiatives. HUD's open government framework, shown below in Figure 2, includes the program lifecycle phases, crucial areas of assessment, and the key players involved in the planning and executing of HUD's open government efforts.

HUD's Open Government Framework

Lifecycle Phases:

  1. Assess: Understand the current state
  2. Plan: Determine direction and tie strategies to outcomes
  3. Implement: Make change
  4. Measure: Monitor changes in performance metrics
  5. Improve: Iterate on the plan and approaches to improve performance

LEGEND

OCIO: Office of the Chief Information Officer
PD R: Office of Policy Development and Research
OGC: Office of General Counsel

HR: Human Resources
OPA: Office of Public Affairs
IGA: Intergovernmental Affairs
OCFO: Office of the Chief Financial Officer



The lifecycle phases each include activities that span many if not all of HUD's organizations. The grey ring in Figure 3 illustrates the HUD organizations that own portions of the policy, technology, and culture components of the open government discipline. Open government at HUD is dependent on these organizations actively contributing to the planning and management of HUD's open government initiatives.

Mission and Support Area Support to Open Government Activities

In phase 1 (Assess), HUD assessed its operational environments and determined the most appropriate ways that open government can be leveraged at HUD. HUD's governance structure, outlined in section 2.5.1, will provide the leadership and oversight to ensure that HUD is properly assessing its current operational environments and aligning open government with the Department's strategic plan.

In phases 2 and 3 (Plan and Implement) HUD will fully plan and prioritize the piloting and implementation of its open government initiatives. Phases 4 and 5 (Measure and Improve) will be a continuous process that will seek to measure the benefits HUD is receiving from its open government initiatives. The Department will retire or modify an initiative or solution if its utility decreases below a threshold set by HUD's open government leadership groups.


Solicitation of Public Comment

During the development of the Open Government Plan, HUD also provided opportunities for the public to provide ideas for improving HUD operations in the areas of transparency, participation, collaboration, and innovation. Two online public engagement tools were used to solicit ideas from the public, which helped inform the formulation of HUD's open government initiatives.

HUD used its IdeaScale website and it's HUD Ideas in Action website to solicit public ideas. These sites were established to help gain feedback from the public and both were valuable mechanisms for the development of HUD's Open Government Plan.

Cultural Change

Cultural Change Case Study:

Field personnel from HUD's field offices engage HUD's customers on a daily basis. The ability to identify repetitive, inefficient processes and solutions is a key organizational tool within HUD. Developing social media forums like an internal HUD IdeaScale page to identify and target outdated practices will:

  • Expose inefficiencies in a timely manner
  • Validate potential solutions through peer review.


HUD, like many organizations, will need targeted internal training and consistent communications to help promote a culture of innovation, transparency, and openness. To facilitate this cultural change, HUD will leverage a leadership and governance structure and a communications plan with measureable results. This will help enable the Department to move to a more open environment where transparency, engagement, and collaboration are a vital part of everyday operations.

Leadership and Governance

As illustrated below, open government at HUD is governed by a dedicated leadership and governance structure. Through the combination of the open government initiatives and HUD's leadership and governance, open government will become a more integrated part of daily HUD activities.

HUD's Open Government Governance Structure

HUD's governance structure consists of three working groups that work with the Customer Care Committee, one of HUD's governance bodies, to make the appropriate decisions about where to invest time and resources for open government activities. The Customer Care Committee's membership consists of senior executives who have detailed knowledge of HUD's strategic activities and processes. This enables the Committee to make informed open government investment decisions.

The Data.gov working group and the Office of General Counsel provide support as necessary to the Customer Care Committee and its members. Lastly, HUD's open government Executive Sponsor, the Chief Operating Officer, provides the necessary leadership, oversight, direction, and vision to ensure open government is achievable, sustainable, and aligned with the Department's strategic plan.

Communications Plan

As a part of the open government planning process, HUD will develop a communications plan that will provide an overall framework for managing and coordinating all communications that take place as part of its open government planning and implementation activities.

The open government communications plan will help to achieve a proactive and targeted delivery of messages, and the effective and timely engagement of key stakeholders. It will also provide HUD's open government leaders with the information, strategies, and tactics necessary for effective communication about open government at the Department, and will keep audiences informed of ongoing open government activities throughout the fiscal year. The intent of the open government communications plan is to provide a roadmap for enhancing Department-wide awareness, education, understanding, and buy-in of open government.

The open government communications plan will:

  • Serve as a framework for all open government communication activities across HUD
  • Assist with the implementation of the open government communications strategy
  • Educate stakeholders about their roles in implementing the plan and open government at large
  • Stimulate engagement and planning to ensure the optimal use of limited resources

The open government communications plan is intended to be a living document that guides the Department in developing and implementing communications initiatives and products to provide stakeholders with accurate and timely information about HUD's open government activities. The tactical implementation plan will include options that can be refined and modified based on strategic, staffing, and resource considerations. As a result, the open government communications plan will be an important component of realizing culture change at HUD.

HUD's Public Feedback Mechanisms

Public feedback is a vital part of open government. As one of its open government initiatives, HUD will utilize public feedback mechanisms that will allow the public, stakeholders, and HUD's customers to give direct feedback to mission owners and personnel. HUD will utilize a variety of tools including email, its website, and social media. The diagram below illustrates the feedback adjudication process in more detail:

HUD's Potential Open Government Comment Adjudication Process

As appropriate, HUD will direct public feedback through approval channels, such as program area communications offices and the open government governance groups. Substantive comments will be forwarded to HUD's program areas for vetting through appropriate personnel and subject matter experts. Where appropriate, HUD personnel will send responses via its Office of Public Affairs to ensure compliance with departmental communications procedures. Each stage within the process will take no more than 5 business days, totaling a maximum time from comment submission to response at 6 working weeks.