What Happens After Performance Numbers Are Reported?

Most local governments resist setting and evaluating performance goals. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to their credit requires local governments that receive HUD funds to submit a Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER). The CAPER explains how a local government is carrying out its housing and community development strategies, projects, and activities.

The City of Buffalo has rightfully received a lot of criticism from HUD and the media about its poor management of HUD funds, but the County of Erie’s Performance and Evaluation Report for 2011 is pretty bad.

In 2011, Erie County spent $4.8 million in Community Development Block Grant/HOME/ESG Program HUD funds. The performance evaluation reportsubmitted by County officials for 2011 activities contains the following goals and dismal performance numbers:

Improve sewer and water service to targeted low-income neighborhoods.

– 35% of the expected annual output was reached in 2011

Provide low interest housing loans to 90 eligible property owners.

– 11% of the annual goal was reached in 2011

Rehabilitate rental units in target neighborhoods by providing low interest loans to minority households.

– 17% of the goal was reached in 2011

Provide a mechanism for handicapped individuals to improve their mobility within residential units.

– 0% of the goal was reached in in 2011

Provide first time home buyer assistance to minority households.

– 20% of the goal was reached for minority households in 2011

Provide financial resources to Community Housing Development Organizations and non-profit groups that seek to develop rental
housing for the low-income population.

– 0% of the goal was reached in 2011

There is nothing inherently wrong with setting goals and failing. The first step to accomplishing anything is to set a goal. The sad thing is that more than likely no discussion will take place at a County Legislature meeting to understand why these numbers are so poor and what steps can be taken to improve them. Tracking performance is an important first step, what happens after performance numbers are reported is even more important.

Have you ever seen a HUD CAPER report discussed at a local government board/legislature meeting?


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Peter Sperry

Part of the problem is that many of these performance reports rarely reach top decision makers (city/county supervisors, state legislators, Congress) with meaningful suggestions for improvement. Yes, a program that is only achieving 35% of its goal is failing by just about any standard but having no program at all achieves 0% of the goal and most elected officials will choose 35% over 0% every time unless the cost is just so out of line their constituents are willing to live with 0%. Advocates of performance measurement need to focus not just on reporting results but making meaningful suggestions for improvement of underperforming programs. If the answer really is to end the program, have a replacement proposal which can be considered.