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How to maximize your agency's HCV performance rating: Tip #1

Teri RobertsonThe Section Eight Management Assessment Program (SEMAP) is HUD's method for assigning objective ratings to public housing agencies (PHAs). Most PHAs are scored under SEMAP every year (small, non-troubled agencies are scored every two years).

There are 14 different categories, or indicators, examined in the SEMAP process. These indicators cover the major program responsibilities in administering the housing choice voucher (HCV) program. Some of the indicators do not apply to every PHA, so your agency may be rated on less than the full 14 areas.

Eight of the SEMAP indicators are scored through the PHA's certification, sometimes based on a review of randomly-selected case files. Scoring for the other six indicators is automated and is based on data from PIC and from HUD's Voucher Management System (VMS).

PHAs receive an individual SEMAP score and an overall rating. Your PHA could be rated as a high performer, a standard performer, or a troubled agency. Troubled PHAs are subject to corrective actions and possible sanctions. Here are some tips your agency can use to maximize your SEMAP score — either raising it, or maintaining it if you're already a high scorer.

Tip #1: Monitor PIC data throughout the year.

Since PIC data is used to score almost half of your agency's SEMAP indicators, it's crucial to make sure that the data is accurate and submitted in a timely manner. Most PHAs submit data to PIC electronically at least once per month.

HUD requires that PHAs maintain a PIC reporting rate of at least 95 percent. This means you must successfully submit certifications to PIC for at least 95 percent of your assisted families. If your reporting rate is lower than 95 percent, your agency will automatically receive a score of zero for each of the PIC-scored indicators. This is almost guaranteed to result in an overall rating of "troubled" for the PHA.

Your agency can ensure an adequate reporting rate by reviewing any error messages generated after each PIC submission. Correct any errors and resubmit the certifications that were rejected. If you fail to review and correct PIC error messages, rejected certifications will reduce the agency's overall reporting rate. Work with your software vendor to resolve any issues that may affect accurate and timely submission of PIC data.

Use the reports available within the PIC system to monitor your agency's data. There are a variety of management reports available to do so, including one covering the PIC-scored SEMAP indicators. It's a good idea to review this particular report every month in order to correct any reported deficiencies.

For example, if your PHA fails to successfully report that families have left the program, these families are likely to increase the number of late annual activities shown in PIC. Reviewing the SEMAP report gives you the opportunity to correct this issue before your SEMAP score is determined at the end of your fiscal year.

To stay updated on the latest news about PIC, follow the #IMS/PIC tag on the NMA blog.

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NMA senior consultant Teri Robertson is nationally recognized as a leading expert in HCV and public housing rent calculation, including HUD RIM review requirements. She specializes in helping agencies improve program utilization to maximize funding. She has previously written for the NMA blog about HCV administrative fees.