Shaping HUD’s Research
Marge F. Martin, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development.
Evidence-based policymaking is important to HUD and the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R). Over the past decade, Research Roadmaps, HUD’s strategic research plans, have guided PD&R’s efforts to ensure a continuing supply of research relevant to housing and urban development. PD&R is currently developing a new Research Roadmap that will update and build on the Fiscal Year 2014–2018 Research Roadmap and its 2017 Update. HUD’s Research Roadmap was one of the first federal learning agendas, and since its development, researchers and policymakers have increasingly concluded that evidence-based policy is necessary to ensure effective government investments. In December 2018, as PD&R was preparing to engage with stakeholders to inform the Research Roadmap, Congress passed the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (Evidence Act), which mandated that federal agencies create learning agendas. The Evidence Act calls these learning agendas “evidence-building plans” and requires them to include stakeholder engagement to identify important research questions and data collection needs.
PD&R has made stakeholder input a priority in creating its previous Research Roadmaps, and HUD is continuing to solicit input from stakeholders as part of developing its current research agenda. On March 20, PD&R kicked off the stakeholder outreach process with Shaping HUD’s Research, a PD&R Quarterly Update/Stakeholder HUDdle event held in the Brooke-Mondale Auditorium at HUD Headquarters in Washington, DC. Several hundred stakeholders from the public sector, research organizations, and the housing industry participated in person or through the webcast.
In his opening remarks, Secretary Ben Carson drew on his original vocation as a pediatric neurosurgeon to highlight parallels between the growth of evidence-based medicine and the need for evidence-based policymaking to make federal policies and programs more effective. In making his point, Carson described the role of the brain’s medial longitudinal fasciculus in coordinating inputs from numerous specialized nerves to control eye movements and enable vision; in the same way, he said, gathering, coordinating, and processing feedback from multiple stakeholders is essential for good governance!
The Shaping HUD’s Research presentation consisted of a summary of HUD’s objectives and approach for the Research Roadmap followed by a panel of four experts who addressed four topics for Roadmap input. Sandra Newman of Johns Hopkins University highlighted some key evidence gaps in the areas of economic opportunity and well-being. Adrianne Todman of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials discussed research needs related to public and assisted housing. Chris Herbert of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies focused on the evidence base for homeownership and housing finance. Jennifer Vey of the Brookings Institution and Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking addressed the broad and vital topic of strengthening communities. A dynamic exchange and questions from the floor began the stakeholder engagement phase of the Research Roadmap.
If you would like to view the presentations and discussion from the Shaping HUD’s Research event, an archived webcast is available. PD&R is also requesting feedback on what important research questions need to be addressed; you can submit your comments and questions by the end of May through the online forums or by emailing the Roadmap team at HUDResearchRoadmap@huduser.gov.
Our Roadmap team also is consulting with internal program office stakeholders. In early summer, PD&R’s expert staff will review the full list of suggested questions from all sources for recurring themes, timeliness, policy relevance, and alignment with HUD’s comparative advantages relative to other research organizations and agencies. Staff will then develop proposals for research projects that address these priority research questions. We’ll develop a new Research Roadmap to summarize the process, the input, and the results. So please stay tuned by regularly visiting www.huduser.gov/portal/about/pdr_roadmap.html.