September 18, 2015
- The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report, Affordable Rental Housing, which points out that there are initiatives on the state, local and federal level which address this issue, however they are not always well coordinated, often overlap, and there is “incomplete information to assess performance.” Without sufficient information, the GAO argues it is impossible for Congress or other agencies to set appropriate spending priorities and assess performance. GOA’s recommendation is for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to work with state and local entities to develop a coordinated assessment and reporting structure.
- Also from the GAO, Pay for Success: Collaboration Among Federal Agencies Would be Helpful as Governments Explore New Financing Mechanisms is a report which describes Social Impact Bonds (SIBs). SIBs are a mechanism by which investors pay for social outcomes and receive an agreed upon return based on the success of the program or as GAO put it, “contracting for social outcomes.” According to the GAO SIBs can be useful in reducing the cost of providing social services while improving success. While the use of SIBs has been limited so far the Office of Management and Budget has been encouraging Federal Agencies to test their potential effectiveness. This GAO report analyzes SIBs that have already been piloted, for example the Department of Labor awarded $24 Million in grants in 2013 to reduce recidivism in New York and Massachusetts. One fear is that SIBs could create perverse incentives. SIBs could eventually be used to finance affordable housing development.