Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important hearing on the Department of Housing and Urban Development's 2020 Management Reform Plan.
The Department has been under a dark cloud since the HUD scandal broke in 1989 and HUD has earnestly been trying to recover ever since. In 1993 when Secretary Henry Cisneros first testified before this Committee he was committed to reform an agency that was crying out for real change. Secretary Cisneros was dedicated to bring a new vision to the Department, he proposed to alter the stagnant climate within HUD, to get rid of the "gotcha mentality," to ease the regulatory burden, to consolidate and streamline programs and redefine HUD's mission. He was committed to improve the efficiency within the agency and to make HUD a true partner of America's communities. His plan was to transform HUD from a centralized, bureaucratic institution to a smaller and more responsive agency.
Today, Secretary Cuomo is committed to continue this rescue effort. The Secretary has charted the course for sweeping change throughout the agency through "HUD's 2020 Management Reform Plan." This plan was announced almost one year ago, shortly after the Secretary took over the Department and shortly after Secretary Cuomo told this committee that he "would continue to build on Secretary Cisneros's efforts and make ftirther management improvements." Mr Secretary, I would like to commend you first for facing this difficult challenge head-on and for implementing your plan while your workforce and resources continue to shrink and secondly for having the confidence to bring about significant change to an agency that has been labeled for too long a "high risk agency."
HUD's 2020 Management Reform Plan calls for several major reforms which include reducing the number of programs; reorganizing the programs by functions, rather than program cylinders; retraining staff-, modernizing and integrating the financial management systems; consolidating processes into specialized centers, creating a single enforcement authority; establishing a new performance-based system and implementing a new customer-friendly HUD.
There is no doubt that HUD's 2020 Management Reform Plan is a huge undertaking for the Department. And it comes during a time when HUD has reduced its staff from 13,500 to 9,000 employees since 1993; a 33 percent cut over a five year period. Not to mention that the agency plans to reduce its staff to 7,500 by 2002. While change of this magnitude in any organization or institution or in our own lives for that matter is difficult because we can never be certain of the outcome, the change that is underway at HUD is moving in the right direction. And while both GAO and the Inspector General have been very critical of certain elements of the Reform Plan, they have also credited the Department with making a serious commitment to remedying the long-standing management deficiencies at HUD.
Mr. Secretary, you know the challenges that still lie ahead as we enter the 21st century and that the most difficult challenge you face is the task to restore the credibility of the agency and to recapture the confidence of the American people. I look forward to hearing your testimony today and learning how you envision the Reform Plan to proceed as well as how you will address the concerns of GAO and the IG. I am also interested to hear the concerns from the Inspector General, Susan Gaffney, GAO and the other witnesses this morning.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for holding this hearing.
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