Better Know a HUD Official

HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) has published a message from Richard Green, Senior Advisor on Housing Finance in Edge, their online magazine. He makes five points, but there are two that are particularly interesting (and are related to the Federal Government) and are reproduced below:

The federal government relies too much on obsolete technology.

. . . Within HUD, for example, the FHA program relies on systems that are driven by coding in COBOL, a mainframe (!) language developed in 1959 (!!). Because almost no one uses COBOL anymore, our university computer science departments don’t train students in its use. As COBOL programmers retire, it will become impossible to find people to maintain the system.

On a more personal level, I was stunned to learn that my HUD PC had a 32-bit operating system in a world where 64-bit system have been around for PCs for 13 years. As a practical matter, 32 bit systems are limited in the amount of data they can analyze, whereas 64 bit systems are nearly unlimited. Many doing HUD work rely on large data sets (for example the Public Use Microsamples of the Census and the American Community Survey). The current standard for operating systems makes it relatively easy to use these datasets; the old standard requires compromises.

Few people know who the third most powerful person is in the Federal Government.

My guess is that the name Shaun Donovan is not well known outside the Beltway. But pretty much nothing gets done without the approval of the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Assuming the most powerful person in the Federal Government  is the President, and third most powerful person is OMB Director, then who’s the second most powerful person? The Speaker of the House? The Senate Majority Leader? The Vice-President?

Read the full message here.


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