1. What is the role of the Departmental Enforcement Center (DEC)?
The DEC works with several of HUD's program areas, such as Public and Indian Housing, Community Planning & Development, Multifamily Housing and Single Family Housing. At the request of HUD program areas, the DEC ensures that federally funded/insured program funds are operated according to program guidelines/regulations. In addition, the DEC ensures that program funds are implemented in the most efficient and effective manner possible by conducting internal/external reviews, taking suspension and debarment actions, and pursuing civil money penalties or double damages, where there have been program violations.
2. When is enforcement action taken?
The DEC attempts to work cooperatively with non-compliant owners. For those who refuse to follow the Department's statutory and regulatory requirements, the DEC takes appropriate enforcement action. This can take the form of various sanctions, including suspension and debarment from Government business. Civil money penalties also may be imposed. In more serious cases involving multifamily housing, the Department can abate owners' federal subsidy payments and, if necessary, foreclose on properties.
3. Why is enforcement action taken?
When owners of HUD-assisted properties do not live up to their responsibility to provide clean, safe and sanitary housing, the DEC steps in and takes action. Enforcement action may be taken against owners with physically substandard properties, those with financial audit findings, and those owners who fail to submit annual financial statements. The DEC may pursue civil money penalties or double damages where program violations have occurred. In general, the DEC refers to the U.S. Justice Department or local US Attorney's Offices cases of civil violations of laws governing HUD programs. Criminal referrals are made to HUD's Office of the Inspector General.
4. Explain further what enforcement tools may be used.
These tools include suspension and debarment, which are administrative enforcement actions that exclude HUD business partners from further participation in HUD and all other Federal Executive Branch procurement and non-procurement programs. Civil money penalties may be pursued against property owners who violate HUD's statutes and regulations. Judicial actions may be initiated with the assistance of the Department of Justice against project owners who fail to operate their properties in compliance with HUD's requirements. Two general types of remedies exist for judicial actions - those against the owner participant and those against the project itself. Participant-based remedies include litigation for breach of contract, which may involve the Double Damage Statute and statutory actions like the False Claims Act. Project-based remedies may involve the appointment of a receiver, a change in management, an injunctive action, a recommendation to foreclose, and/or abatement of housing assistance payments.