Katy Reckdahl has a decent summary of the latest scathing audit from the HUD Inspector General on the utility of the federal receivership of HANO.
I have a copy of the original report, which I can email to you if you contact me. I'm having the hardest time uploading pdfs this week...
Here are the passages that I thought really got to the heart of the matter:
HUD did not properly plan the receivership because it did not perform an initial
assessment of the Authority's condition or continuous assessments after the receiver
took over. In phase 1 of the recovery process, the receiver should have assessed the
Authority's condition, which would have established an inventory of the Authority's
problems. Although there was a February 2002 decision to terminate the
cooperative endeavor agreement and/or execution of the August 2002 memorandum
of agreement, HUD did not provide initial assessments of the Authority's operations
before or after the agreements were executed.
The initial assessment would have provided the details needed to identify problems
with the Authority's operations. The assessment would have been an inventory of
problems that would have provided the receiver with a road map of the management
areas in need of improvement and would have provided the foundation for
documenting improvements through periodic reports.
The lack of assessments and reports continued after Hurricane Katrina. If HUD's
receiver had performed an initial assessment in phase 1, that assessment would have
had to have been significantly revised due to the Hurricane Katrina disaster on
August 29, 2005. However, neither HUD headquarters nor the receiver could
provide evidence to show that it reassessed or performed continuous assessment of
the Authority's condition after Hurricane Katrina.
The current receiver explained that before Hurricane Katrina, the Authority was
mostly involved in redevelopment, while after the hurricane, it was mostly
involved in recovery efforts such as asset recovery and rehousing displaced
Hurricane Katrina victims. The prior receiver confirmed that his priorities
included providing housing to displaced public housing tenants who wanted to
return after the hurricane and redevelopment. However, neither receiver could
provide documents to support these assertions.
During most of the receivership, there was no documented recovery plan which
covered all aspects of the Authority's condition. The current strategic
improvement plan was not implemented until after we began our audit in April
HUD did not properly monitor or control the receivership at the Authority.
During much of the time that the receivership was in existence, it was apparent
that HUD had not established a clear operating structure and reporting chain of
command. This condition is evidenced by the lack of documents to support the
receivership's actions and results in improving operations at the Authority.
According to interviews with HUD staff, until April 2008, the former Secretary of
HUD and some of his executive staff were intermittently involved with the
receivership. However, due to a lack of documentation, we could not evaluate the
extent of their involvement in the recovery of the Authority or how their
involvement was coordinated with the Assistant Secretary's oversight and the
Aren't you glad we rushed into a poorly conceived public housing redevelopment program that was so clearly a vessel for handing out favors to cronies of incompetent HUD chief Alphonso Jackson?
It doesn't surprise me that there was "a lack of documentation" and "no documented recovery plan." You don't exactly want "a clear operating structure and reporting chain of command" when you intend to hand out contracts to personal friends and political allies.
I would love to see Attorney General Holder open up an inquiry into Mr. Jackson's tenure at HUD. I know the FBI was investigating him at the time of his resignation. I wonder if charges might still be in the offing.
There was a sad lack of reporting on Mr. Jackson's hidden agenda, especially as it relates to New Orleans post-Katrina. Ezra Pound of the National Review may have been the only professional investigative journalist to really delve into Jackson's dealings in here. It was his attempts to extort the city of Philadelphia that ultimately lead to his resignation, but I don't think the media ever truly examined out the extent to which Jackson made HUD into his own personal political fiefdom. Whereas Talking Points Memo devoted months and months to uncovering the politicization of the Department of Justice, there was no such organizational push to look into Housing and Urban Development. I wonder if we would have found a similar scope of departmental corruption.
Mary Landrieu is right to call for the resignation or replacement of all of the top HANO officials that are holdover appointees of Mr. Jackson.
It's such a shame that this was so poorly administered.
Federal receivership can and should be an effective means of cleaning up chronically ineffective or corrupted municipal departments. I'd like to see a lot more federal involvement in the administration of certain municipal departments here in New Orleans, especially now that we have President that presumably won't be appointing stooges like Alphie J.