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Bureaucrats Behaving Badly: HUD Edition!

Monday April 25th, 2016   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 7:06am PDT   •  

hudseal_teal_1 The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has the mission to “create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.” To do that, the U.S. government entity has established a five point agenda:

  • Strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers
  • Meet the need for quality affordable rental homes
  • Utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life
  • Build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination, and finally, to
  • Transform the way HUD does business

In practice, HUD has historically failed to achieve hardly any of these objectives particularly well. So much so that in many ways, HUD may be considered to be the prototype for the institutionalization of corruption in the federal government, which comes at the expense of the program’s intended beneficiaries and U.S. taxpayers, both of whom are cheated in the process of the agency’s daily operations.

Two cases in point were recently reported by Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller News Foundation. In the first story, it appears that an employee of the Department of Housing and Urban Development used their insider connections within the federal government to put themselves first in line ahead of a very long list of poor Americans seeking housing assistance from HUD.

A Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) employee was given subsidized housing project units in two states to occupy simultaneously, even as thousands of other impoverished citizens languish for years on long waiting lists, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.

That kind of corruption is sad, but at least the offender was caught, which should be a good thing, right?

Not necessarily. The bigger problem demonstrating the extent of the institutionalization of corruption within HUD came as a result of what happened after the offender was caught:

Immediately after federal officials caught the offending employee, HUD promoted her to manage the awarding of millions of tax dollars in grants, even though she lied to criminal investigators about double-dipping in the benefit programs her department administers.

Worse, tolerance for the corrupt actions of its employees would appear to extend all the way up to top of HUD’s management, whose response to the scandal to date is perhaps best described as being so ineffective and wasteful that it has only succeeded in more deeply embedding outright corruption within the federal government department.

A HUD spokesman claimed that federal officials took corrective action in the case by deploying an internal ad campaign for the department’s employees, using the expensive trademarked slogan “if you see something, say something.” The spokesman said simply that HUD has conducted “ethics training” classes for its employees when asked about the Virginia prosecutor’s observation that housing project paperwork didn’t ask key questions required to prosecute those charged with stealing housing benefits.

The spokesman said “the behavior cited in this OIG report is disturbing, disappointing, and in no way reflective of the hard work or values of thousands of HUD employees,” even though all of the HUD grantees and employees involved helped the Mathis fraud occur and none received significant punishment.

The spokesman also said HUD Secretary Julian Castro has “advised HUD employees to work with the IG’s staff to eliminate waste and mismanagement.” Yet the employee who lied to the IG about her own fraud was promoted.

The second story revolves around the actions by the U.S. Congress to counteract the runaway corruption at the Department of Housing and Urban Development by recent political appointees.

A federal agency will be breaking the law unless two of its top Obama administration appointees repay part of their salaries to taxpayers after barring another federal employee from telling Congress how higher-ups were allowing multi-million dollar frauds as part of a political deal.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) determined Tuesday that the two Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) political appointees refused to let an employee speak with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about a major scandal….

The GAO said that unless HUD’s associate general counsel and a deputy assistant secretary personally return three weeks’ worth of compensation, the department would be knowingly retaining “improper payments” on its books in violation of the law.

In all cases, unambiguous misconduct on the part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s bureaucrats came as they put their own interests ahead of those of regular Americans. In that sense, it is the same old story that we’ve seen play out time and time again at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Environmental Protection Administration and the Internal Revenue Service.

The only difference is that now we have a fourth federal government department or agency in the running for the title of which has institutionalized corruption to the greatest extent within its ranks during the Obama administration.

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April 2016