A top executive of a trade association that lobbies for local housing authorities was hired by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to regulate those same authorities — and was allowed to keep her paid job at the lobbying association at the same time.
HUD’s Inspector General said the 2011 hiring of Debra Gross, deputy director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, was an “inherent conflict of interest” in the same way it would be to hire an Exxon lobbyist to regulate oil companies.
In taking the job as HUD’s deputy assistant secretary for public housing project policy, Gross insisted on a $200,000 salary, which is higher than the government pay scale. After starting the job, she was also given several performance bonuses without having performance reviews.
And once at HUD she hired other industry advocates onto her staff. She made it a big priority of her office to scrap oversight scrutiny of housing authorities. Gross and her staff then lobbied for the housing authorities to have the power to pay higher salaries to administrators, to let them turn federal dollars into “profit” and to lower performance metrics they had to report, the inspector general says.
Gross was hired by Assistant Secretary Sandra B. Henriquez to head the federal agency’s Office of Policy, Program and Legislative Initiatives for Public and Indian Housing while continuing to hold her post at the industry group, which represents city-run housing authorities that get billions of HUD dollars annually.
There’s more at the link.