December 20, 2016

My Highlights from the 2016 EVS Results

Last week, the Partnership for Public Service released its 2016 rankings for Best Places to Work in the federal government.

Overall, HUD had the third highest increase of midsize agencies – 5.9 points higher than last year. We also improved on 69 of 71 questions.

This year, we have more granular information to understand how employees feel thanks to our 77% participation rate – a new record for HUD. I encourage you to look at the data yourself, but also wanted to share a few highlights here.

Highlight #1: HUD staff report being the most satisfied they’ve been in 5 years.

The EVS global satisfaction score measures employee’s satisfaction with their job, pay, and organization. HUD increased 4 points this year to 61% – that’s the highest in 5 years. It also ties the Government-wide average.

Highlight #2: Our investment in employee engagement is paying off.

The Employee Engagement index measures an employee’s sense of purpose and overall attachment to their organization and its mission. This year, HUD increased 4 points to 66% – that’s on top of the 5 points we increased in 2015.

We spent the last year prioritizing employee engagement: every major office developed and implemented employee engagement action plans.

Recognizing that communication is key, program offices reported using newsletters, all-hands meetings, regional and national calls, weekly e-mails and other modes of communication in their action plans.

We also included employee engagement standards in all of our SES performance plans and continued our enterprise-wide use of tools like Switchboard, Yammer and Town Halls to hear directly from employees.

We still have work to do, but increasing 9 points in two years is something we should all be proud of. (OPM considers a 2 point increase in a year a significant achievement.)

Photo: EVS Chart

Highlight #3: Employees feel more empowered when it comes to their work processes.

The question that increased the most in 2016 asked how empowered employees feel with respect to work processes. We increased a full 7 points on that question.

I believe that jump is due, in part, to our investment in process improvement initiatives.

A good example is our innovative, no-cost partnership with the nonprofit arm of Toyota. Through the Deep Dive over, employees have worked with Toyota to address challenging processes such as our hiring plan and process, grant closeouts, and the Rental Assistance Demonstration application review process.

The successes speak for themselves: together, we cut the FY16 internal hiring plan process from 84 days to 10 days, we closed 63,000 out of 88,000 expired SNAPS grants, and we reduced the time it takes to review RAD applications by 40 percent in 2016.

Specific program offices also did their own process improvement initiatives, including PD&R’s “Month of Ideas” and CPD’s Field Innovation Pilots. Both of these initiatives asked staff to identify solutions for improving their work environment.

Looking ahead, we know where we need to improve and are addressing those areas.

One of our lowest-scoring questions asked if employees have sufficient resources to get their job done – only 39% of HUD reported that they did.

We need to do better.

We are tackling this problem by conducting Quarterly Management Reviews (QMRs) with the leadership of each office to bring real-time transparency to budgets so leaders know where their money is going and can allocated strategically.

Because of the QMRs, we were able to prioritize over $15 million for the Working Capital Fund, enterprise-wide IT needs, and space improvements.

What’s next?

I am proud of the strides we’ve made together in the past two years. I also believe there is always room for improvement.

Since FY17 began, you will notice new efforts to make performance management more reflective of our collaborative work culture and increased efforts to train our managers and leaders.

We will also continue our process improvement efforts so that staff have a say in how work processes function.

Thanks to everyone who was involved in these efforts and all you do to Build a Stronger HUD – you each make HUD a great place to work!

December 6, 2016

Measuring Progress in the Housing Market

houses_1814-1024x708

HUD’s housing scorecard provides a monthly snapshot of our nation’s housing market and measures how the Administration’s initiatives are serving Americans. Looking back on November, we witnessed notable progress among key indicators: a continued increase in existing home sales and an uptick in home values. While housing is being reenergized, there is still a need to support programs that help more hardworking, responsible Americans recover from the Great Recession. Continue reading

December 1, 2016

Creating Healthier Communities with Smoke-Free Public Housing

Over a year ago, Secretary Castro announced a proposed rule to make our nation’s public housing units smoke-free, with the support of public health leaders such as Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and the Centers for Disease Control, which concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Yesterday in Boston, Secretary Castro announced our final smoke-free rule that will require more than 3,100 public housing agencies to implement smoke-free policies in their developments. This effort will protect public housing residents from the harmful health and safety effects of lit tobacco inside apartments and in common areas.

Continue reading