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How to maximize your agency's HCV performance rating: Tip #4

Teri RobertsonTip #4: Establish ongoing quality control procedures.

Quality control (QC) reviews are an important component of administering the voucher program. While QC reviews are not dictated by HUD regulations, they are your agency's means of determining whether staff members are complying with regulations and discretionary PHA policies. A lack of QC activities throughout the year may lead to unpleasant surprises when files are selected for your agency's SEMAP review.

The nature and frequency of QC activities is based in part on your PHA's program size and staff resources. However, even small agencies should conduct regular supervisory reviews of staff certifications. Doing so will assist your agency in identifying problem areas in calculation or other program elements.

Rent calculation, for instance, has components that are complicated and error-prone. Checking these components on a regular basis helps ensure that staff members understand and comply with the individual requirements.

If your housing authority does identify multiple errors in a specific calculation area, it's important to identify the cause of the errors in order to develop a correction strategy. Many PHAs find that a lack of clear written policies and procedures leads to a lack of consistency and repeated errors. It might also be possible that your procedures are no longer workable due to changes in HUD's requirements, or that staff members are aware of the written procedures but have developed noncompliant  shortcut procedures in order to save time.

Without ongoing QC activities, your agency's administrators

won't be aware of error trends and the need for program

improvements. As a result, your SEMAP score could be

reduced because your PHA didn't identify and

correct errors on an ongoing basis.

Different error causes require different strategies for correction. Formal or informal training may improve the error rate if the cause of errors is misunderstanding or lacking knowledge of program requirements. But other causes could require the establishment of written procedures and the communication of those procedures to staff members, with follow-up monitoring to confirm improvement.

As HUD's method for assigning objective ratings to public housing agencies, SEMAP helps to shed light on how you're doing as an agency. Here are the four basic tips I've presented to help your agency achieve SEMAP success:

Each of these tips can contribute to improving your PHA's overall performance, but they are best taken together so that your agency can maximize the results. Remember, receiving a rating of "troubled" can mean corrective actions and possibly even sanctions for your agency. This makes SEMAP success not only important for compliance reasons, but also for ensuring that your clients will ultimately be better served.

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.

If you find that you need help with SEMAP and quality control, NMA can provide your agency with customized training and consulting, technology solutions, and more. Email for further assistance.