oversight

Benefits Could Be Realized Through Reuse of Designs for Public Housing Projects

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-12-02.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                            LM095459




Department of Housing and
  Urban Development
                      COMPTROLLER     GENERAL      OF      THE      UNITED    STATES
                                    WASHINGTON.     D.C.         2G548




     B -114863




     To the      President   of the Senate and the
     Speaker       of the House    of Representatives

             This is our report         on benefits    that could be realized
     through    reuse     of designs    for public    housing    projects.    Fed-
     eral participation        in these projects      is administered      by the
 \   Department        of Housing     and Urban     Development.                              -_fi 3
.*
               Ourreview  was made              pursuant   to the Budget    and Ac-
     counting   Act, 1921 (31 U.S.C.             53), and the Housing    Act of 1954
     (42 U.S.C.    1435)s

             Copies   of this report    are being    sent to the Director,
     Office   of Management      and Budget,     and to the Secretary      of
     Housing    and Urban    Development.




                                                   Comptroller                      General
                                                   of the United                    States




                             50 TH ANNIVERSARY                    1921-      1971
COMPTROLLERGENERAL'S                                       BENEFITS COULD BE REALIZED THROUGH REUSE
REPORTTO THE CONGRESS                                      OF DESIGNS FOR PUBLIC HOUSING PROJECTS
                                                           Department of Housing  and Urban Development
                                                           B-114863


DIGEST
------


WHYTHE REVIEW WASMDE

        Housing     for low-income       families       is one of the major problems          facing      the
        Nation    today.       Much of this       housing     has been and probably      will     continue
        to be provided         by local    housing      authorities      (LHAs) with technical         and
        financial      assistance      by the Department            of Housing  and Urban Development
        (HUD).

        Most of the 2,500 public         housing    projects      approved     and subsidized     by HUD
        since July 1965 have been individually               designed.       Designs    are often   re-
        used, however,    in constructing        private     housing,      motels,   schools,    and other
        private  and public   buildings.

        The General    Accounting      Office    (GAO) wanted       to determine     the benefits    that
        might feasibly      be realized       by reusing
                                                   --       designs
                                                         ._. _ _       in   the  construction     of pub-
        lic housing    projects.
         ----.A---              .-   -




FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

        If housing               projects     were based on exi sting     designs,          construction       could     be
        expedited               and costs     could be reduced  significantly.

        GAO estimates      that,   if 50 percent    of the housing                       projects    placed    under
        construction     in fiscal    year 1970 had been based                         on existing      rather    than
        individually     developed    designs,   about $31 million                         in design    and con-
        struction    costs could have been saved.          (See p.                     7.)

                     --GAO's      review    indicated      that design    costs were generally        reduced    by
                        about 50 percent           when designs   were reused.      On this    basis,     if half
                        of the 700 projects            begun in fiscal     year 1970--costing       about $1.26 bil-
                        lion--had       been based on existing         designs,  about $12 million          could have
                        been saved in design            costs.   (See p. 11.)

                     --GAO's     review    indicated     also that,     by reuse of existing         project      designs,
                        construction       of a housing      project    could be started        at least     5 months
                        earlier,      thus some of the escalation            of labor   and material       prices      could
                        be avoided.        About $19 million         in construction      costs   could have been
                        saved if existing          plans had been reused         for half    of the 700 projects
                        begun in fiscal         year 1970, because       construction      could have been started
                        5 months sooner.           (See p. 14.)




                                                                                        DEC. 2,197                 1
 Tear   Sheet
                                                                                                                       'I
    GAO estimates     that   about  1,400 individual  project  designs    could be made                                 I
                                                                                                                        I
    available     to LHAs.     Such a large  number of designs  would allow     the hous-                               I
    ing authority     to select    a design  in a way to avoid stereotyped      or monot-
    onous projects.        (See p. 16.)

    Most LHAs interviewed             by GAO were willing      to       cooperate      with     HUD in mak-
                                                                                                                           I
    ing greater   use of         existing   project   designs.           (See p.      16.)                                 I
                                                                                                                           I
    Most of the architects   interviewed                 said that      they would be willing
    to make the necessary   modifications                 to adapt      existing  designs   for          use
    at new sites.    (See p. 18.)


RECOMMJYNDATIONS
              OR SUGGESTIONS                                                                                               II

    HUD should

       --implement       procedures     to encourage         greater     reuse     of designs      for    public
           housing    projects      and

       --require    that LHA contracts             with developers       under the turnkey    method
           provide  for acquiring    title           to designs     so that they will     be available
           for reuse on all types of              low-rent    projects.      (See p. 19.)

                                                                                                                       I

AGENCYACTIONS AND UNRESOLVEDISSUES                                                                                     I

    HUD believes          that there       are some potential          economies      in time and total                I
    development          costs by the reuse of public                housing   designs--plans       and spec-          :
    ifications--modified               to fit    different     sites     but that there        are constraints         :
    limiting       the degree        to which the reuse of designs               would produce      savings.           :
    HUD, however,           believes     it would be desirable             and feasible      to encourage              I
                                                                                                                       I
    greater      reuse of superior            designs      by LHAs.                                                    I

    HUD questioned        GAO's estimates       of time and construction                 cost savings        in
    the belief     that    the estimates      might      be overstated.           GAO's estimates          of cost
    savings    were developed       to indicate        the possible        extent      of savings.         The es-
    timates    were based on the savings             that might        have been achieved           in fiscal
    year 1970 if 50 percent           of the projects          constructed        during     that year had
    been based on existing          designs     and if the architect's               fees had been reduced
    by 50 percent.         Savings    through     the reuse of designs             would,      of course,       vary
    depending     on the number of projects              constructed       using existing          designs      and
    the extent     modifications        would be needed to adapt the designs                     for reuse,
    as shown on page 14.

    HUD stated        that  public   housing    should   not become standardized      and must re-                     j
    fleet     the architectural       standards     of the neighborhood      and community.     As                     ;
    pointed      out on page 16, the inventory           of about 1,400 project      designs   could                   ;
    be made available           to LHAs for selection       and such variety    would preclude     the                 :
    necessity       of duplicating      a project     in any one community.                                            I
                                                                                                                       I




                                                        2
                  HUD's proposal   to encourage     the reuse of only superior        designs    would livit
                  the number of designs     for selection      by the housing   authorities       and would
                  preclude  the reuse of attractive       designs    which might be well      suited   to the
                  needs of the community      but which might not be recognized           as being outstand-
                  ing.

                  HUD stated     that   the   rights    to designs     would    have   to be obtained       and that
                  architects  would have to be selected     to modify  designs     developed      by others.
                  GAO agrees  that designs     would have to be modified to adapt them to local
                  conditions.    LHAs own all designs for conventional       projects       and therefore
                  would have to acquire    title   only to designs for turnkey        projects.

                  HUD stated      that implementing       a program    for reuse of designs         would involve
                  an extensive       effort    and widespread     cooperation      by LHAs and their         archi-
                  tectural    firms      as well as considerable        Federal    effort    in providing       assis-
                  tance.     Becauseof the willingness            of both LHAs (see p. 16) and architects
                  (see p. 18) to reuse designs,             GAO believes      that   the Federal     assistance
                  needed to promote         such a program     should    be provided      and that     the cost of
                  providing      such assistance      would be minimal        compared    with the savings         that
                  could be achieved.

    I
    ‘
    I   MATTERSFOR CONSIDERATIONBY THE CONGRESS

                  GAO is issuing         this    report    to inform    the Congress that  the construction
                  of public      housing      based on existing       designs  would result in a more timely
                  availability       of housing         to meet the needs of low-income      families    and in
                  reduced      costs to the Federal          Government.




I
        Tear   Sheet
I
,                                                                 3
                          Contents
                                                                  Page

DIGEST                                                              1

CHAPTER

   1       INTRODUCTION                                            4
               Scope of review                                     6

   2       BENEFITS COULD BE REALIZED THROUGHREUSE
           OF DESIGNS FOR PUBLIC HOUSING PROJECTS                  7
               Savings in design time would result           in
                 expediting     construction   starts              7
                    Time savings realized      in the con-
                      struction    of low-rent    public hous-
                       ing                                         8
                    Time savings realized      by private
                      organizations                                9
               Cost reductions     that could result      from
                 reuse of designs                                 11
                    Design costs                                  11
                    Construction     costs                        14

           REUSING DESIGNS NEED NOT RESULT IN STEREO-
           TYPED PROJECTSBECAUSEOF THE AVAILABILITY
           OF A LARGE DESIGN INVENTORY                            16

           WILLINGNESS OF ARCHITECTS TO MODIFY EXISTING
           DESIGNS                                                18

           RECOMMENDATIONS,AGENCYCOMMENTS,AND OUR
           EVALUATION                                             19
               Recommendations to the Secretary   of BUD          19
               Agency comments and our evaluation                 19

APPENDIX

  I        Letters  dated July 21, 1971, from the Secre-
              tary of Housing and Urban Development and
             July 22, 1971, from the Assistant   Secretary
              for Housing Production and Mortgage Credit
              and Federal Housing Commissioner,  Depart-
             ment of Housing and Urban Development                26
APPENDIX                                                           Page

 II        Principal  officials  of the Department of
              Housing and Urban Development responsible
              for administration  of activities  discussed
              in this report                                        29

                               ABBREVIATIONS

GAO        General     Accounting    Office

HUD        Department      of Housing      and Urban Development

LHA        Local     housing   authority
'COMPTROLLERGENERAL'S                        BENEFITS COULD BE REALIZEDTHROUGH REUSE
 REPORTTO THE CONGRESS                       OF DESIGNS FOR PUBLIC HOUSING  PROJECTS
                                             Department of Housing and Urban Development
                                             B-114863


DIGEST
------

WHYTHE REVIEW WASMADE

    Housing     for low-income       families       is one of the major problems          facing     the
    Nation    today.       Much of this       housing     has been and probably      will    continue
    to be provided         by local    housing      authorities      (LHAs) with technical        and
    financial      assistance      by the Department            of Housing  and Urban Development
    (HUD).

    Most of the 2,500 public         housing     projects      approved    and subsidized by HUD
    since July 1965 have been individually                designed.      Designs    are often   re-
    used, however,    in constructing        private      housing,     motels,   schools,    and other
    private  and public   buildings.

    The General Accounting         Office    (GAO) wanted     to determine  the benefits    that
    might feasibly      be realized       by reusing  designs    in the construction     of pub-
    lic housing    projects.


FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

    If housing     projects were based on existing     designs,                 construction            could     be
    expedited     and costs could be reduced significantly.

    GAO estimates       that,   if    50 percent    of the housing projects              placed under
    construction      in fiscal       year 1970 had been based on existing                     rather      than
    individually      developed       designs,   about $31 million  in design                  and con-
    struction     costs could        have been saved. (See p. 7.)
      --GAO's      review    indicated      that design    costs were generally        reduced    by
         about 50 percent           when designs   were reused.      On this    basis,     if half
         of the 700 projects            begun in fiscal     year 1970--costing       about $1.26 bil-
         lion--had       been based on existing         designs , about $12 million          could have
         been saved in design            costs.   (See p. 17.)

      --GAO's     review    indicated     also that,         by reuse of existing        project      designs,
         construction       of a housing      project        could be started       at least     5 months
         earlier,      thus some of the escalation                of labor  and material       prices      could
         be avoided.        About $19 million         in     construction    costs    could have been
         saved if existing          plans had been         reused for half      of the 700 projects
         begun in fiscal         year 1970, because           construction     could have been started
         5 months sooner.           (See pa 14.)
    GAO estimates        that     about     1,400      individual           project       designs      could     be made       I
    available     to    LHAs.  Such a large number of designs would allow the hous-
    ing authority        to select a design in a way to avoid stereotyped or monot-
    onous projects.             (See   p.   16.)

    Most LHAs interviewed    by             GAOwere willing                 to   cooperate      with     HUD in mak-
    ing greater  use of existing                   project       designs.         (See p.      16.)

    Most of the architects   interviewed                     said that           they would be willing
    to make the necessary   modifications                     to adapt           existing  designs   for             use
    at new sites.    (See p. 18.)


RECOMMENDATIONS
            ORSUGGESTIONS
    HUD should

       --implement        procedures    to encourage                greater       reuse     of designs         for    public
           h,ousing    projects     and

       --require    that LHA contracts                  with developers       under the turnkey    method
           provide  for acquiring    title                to designs     so that they will     be available
           for reuse on all types of                  low-rent     projects.      (See p. 19.)


AGENCY
     ACTIONSAND UNRESOLVED
                        ISSUES
    HUD believes          that    there    are some potential           economies     in time and total
    development          costs    by the reuse of public             housing    designs--plans      and spec-
    ifications--modified               to fit    different     sites     but that     there    are constraints
    limiting       the degree        to which the reuse of designs               would produce      savings.
    HUD, however,           believes     it would be desirable             and feasible      to encourage
    greater      reuse of superior            designs      by LHAs.

   HUD questioned        GAO's estimates      of time and construction                 cost savings        in
   the belief     that    the estimates      might     be overstated.           GAO's estimates          of cost
   savings    were developed       to indicate       the possible        extent      of savings.         The es-
   timates    were based on the savings            that might       have been achieved            in fiscal
   year 1970 if 50 percent           of the projects         constructed        during     that year had
   been based on existing          designs    and if the architect's               fees had been reduced
   by 50 percent.         Savings    through    the reuse of designs             would,      of course,       vary
   depending     on the number of projects             constructed       using existing          designs      and
   the extent     modifications        would be needed to adapt the designs                    for reuse,
   as shown on page 14.

    HUD stated        that public    housing    should   not become standardized and must ‘re-
    fleet     the architectural       standards     of the neighborhood      and community.     As
    pointed      out on page 16, the inventory           of about   1,400 project    designs   could
    be made available           to LHAs for selection       and such variety    would preclude      the
    necessity       of duplicating      a project     in any one community.




                                                             2
    HUD's proposal   to encourage     the reuse of only superior         designs     would limit
    the number of designs     for selection      by the housing    authorities       and would
    preclude  the reuse of attractive       designs    which might be well       suited    to the
    needs of the community      but which might     not be recognized        as being outstand-
    ing.

    HUD stated     that the rights       to designs     would have to be obtained            and that
    architects     would have to be selected          to modify    designs      developed      by others.
    GAO agrees     that designs     would have to be modified           to adapt them to local
    conditions.       LHAs own all designs        for conventional        projects       and therefore
    would have     to acquire   title      only to designs     for turnkey        projects.

    HUD stated       that implementing       a program     for reuse of designs         would involve
    an extensive        effort    and widespread     cooperation      by LHAs and their          archi-
    tectural    firms       as well as considerable        Federal    effort     in providing       assis-
    tance.     Because of the willingness            of both LHAs (see p. 16) and architects
    (see p. 18) to reuse designs,              GAO believes      that   the Federal      assistance
    needed to promote          such a program     should     be provided     and that      the cost of
    providing      such assistance       would be minimal        compared    with the savings           that
    could be achieved.


MATTERSFOR CONSIDERATIONBY TRE CONGRESS

    GAO is issuing          this    report    to inform    the Congress that   the construction
    of public       housing      based on existing       designs  would result     in a more timely
    availability        of housing         to meet the needs of low-income       families   and in
    reduced      costs    to the Federal        Government.




                                                     3
                             INTRODUCTION

       Housing for low-income families     has been and probably
will continue to be provided by local housing authorities
which develop, own, and operate low-rent        public housing
projects.     LHAs receive financial   assistance     from the De-
partment of Housing and Urban Development under a program
of assistance    for low-rent  public housing authorized      by the
United States Housing Act of 1937, as amended (42 U.S.C.
1401).

       Decent housing for low-income families      is one of the
major problems facing our Nation today.         The need to expe-
dite the construction     of housing was emphasized when, con-
currently    with enacting the Housing and Urban Development
Act of 1968, the Congress established       the national   lo-year
housing goal of 26 million     housing units--6    million   to be
for low- and moderate-income      families.

        Recognizing    that the system for providing         housing for
all people was not sufficient           to meet the housing goals,
the Secretary      of HUD, in May 1969, initiated          Operation
Breakthrough--     a research and demonstration         program to im-
prove the entire       process by which housing is provided to
all people.       The program is intended to assist the American
housing industry       to increase its overall       production     capa-
bility    by supporting     it in the application       of advances in
building    materials,     construction    techniques,    management and
financing    methods, and site planning for the production              of
quality    housing in volume and in the creation            of better
communities for Americans of all incomes.

        The development and administration         of federally     sub-
sidized public housing projects         is primarily      the responsi-
bility    of LHAs. In addition       to providing     financial   assis-
tance, HUD (1) provides technical          assistance     to LHAs in
the development of the projects         and (2) reviews the adminis-
tration    of the projects     after construction       to determine
whether they are being operated and maintained               in confor-
mance with statutory       requirements    and in a manner which
promotes efficiency,       economy, and serviceability.


                                    4
        HUD provides financial      assistance    by making loans for
development and by making annual contributions               (subsidies)
pursuant to contracts       with LHAs.      The contracts     provide for
contributions      by HUD which,    if  made   in  the maximum    allowable
amount, will be sufficient        to pay the principal        and interest
on bonds and notes sold by LHAs to the public or, in some
cases, to HUD to obtain funds for developing              the projects,
The contracts      provide also for reducing the maximum allow-
able contributions       by the residual     receipts,    if any, from
project    operations.

        During fiscal   year 1970, HUD's annual contributions      to
all LHAs operating      projects   under the public housing program
amounted to about $388 million,         or about 94 percent of the
maximum allowable      annual contributions.      The major cost in-
curred in developing a low-rent         housing project  usually is
the cost of construction,         Therefore,   when the cost of con-
struction     is minimized,    HUD's maximum liability   for annual
contributions     is also minimized.

      LHAs may acquire public housing projects              by leasing or
purchasing    existing    structures      or by constructing      new proj-
ects.    Projects    may be constructed       under the conventional
method or the turnkey method.             Under the conventional       method,
an LHA acquires a site,         contracts    with an architect      to de-
sign the project,      advertises      for competitive     bids from pri-
vate contractors,      and awards a construction          contract    to the
lowest responsible      bidder,

        The turnkey method of providing     public housing was
developed by HUD in conjunction      with the private    residential
building     industry  to expedite the construction    of low-rent
housing,      Under the turnkey method, a developer or builder
who owns a site or has an option to a site or can obtain
an option to a site may submit,       in response to an invitation
from an LHA, a proposal to construct        a low-rent  housing
project    in accordance with his own plans and specifications.
If the proposal is acceptable      to LHA and HUD, the parties
enter into a letter      of intent based upon preliminary     designs.

      The letter    of intent     sets a limit    for the purchase
price for the project,        including  an amount for the devel-
oper's architectural      and engineering      services  and for the
site.   Upon approval of the final         design--plans   and
specifications--     LHA enters into a negotiated    fixed-price
contract     with the developer to purchase the completed proj-
ect.     During the 5-year period ended June 30, 1970, HUD
approved the construction       of approximately  2,500 low-rent
public housing projects,       of which 1,700 were conventional
and 800 were turnkey projects.

        HUD approves the design of a housing project              after    it
is accepted by an LHA under either            the conventional       or the
turnkey method.        HUD's practice     has been to permit the use
of individual      project   designs except in a few instances where
the reuse of a design has been approved.                Design costs--the
cost of all services provided by an architect/engineer                   re-
sponsible    for designing a project--represent             about 3.8 per-
cent of the total       cost of a conventional         housing project.
Assuming that the average design costs are the same for
conventional     and turnkey projects,        we estimate     that the cost
of designing     the 700 housing projects--approximately               400
turnkey and 300 conventional          projects--placed       under con-
struction    during fiscal     year 1970 amounted to about $48 mil-
lion.

SCOPE OF REVIEW

        We examined the applicable           Federal laws and HUD's reg-
ulations,     administrative       policies,       and practices      relating  to
the design of federally          assisted       low-rent   public housing.
Our review included discussions              with HUD officials,          offi-
cials of 39 LHAs, 82 practicing              architects,      and a number of
private     contractors     and organizations.           We also contacted
the State Board of Architecture,               or equivalent       regulatory
body 9   of  each   State   and  the   District      of  Columbia     to deter-
mine the applicability          of any laws pertaining           to architect
services.

       Qur work was conducted at HUD headquarters               in Washing-
ton, D.C., at HUD's regional         offices      in Fort Worth, Texas;
Philadelphia,     Pennsylvania;     San Francisco,       California;   and
Seattle,   Washington,    and at LHAs under the administrative
authority     of these regional     offices.       We also obtained in-
formation     from LHAs under the administrative           authority   of
HUD's Chicago, Illinois,        regional     office.




                                        6
                               CHAPTER 2

    BENEFITS COULD BE REALIZED THROUGHREUSE OF DESIGNS

                   FOR PUBLIC HOUSING PROJECTS

      The construction of public housing by the reuse of
housing designs would result    in a more timely availability
of housing to meet the needs of low-income families,        in
reduced design and construction    costs to IHAs, and also in
reduced costs to the Federal Government.

     Our review indicated     that the construction        of a hous-
ing projec't could be started at least 5 months           earlier    if
it was based on an existing      design rather than       an individu-
ally developed design.     We estimate that, had         50 percent of
the 700 housing projects    placed in construction         in fiscal
year 1970 been based on the reuse of existing            designs,    the
costs of the projects    would have been reduced         by about
$31 million.

       Our review indicates   also that the number of indivi-
dual public housing designs--an      estimated 1,400--that  are
available   would permit    an LHA to select designs that would
require minimum modifications      to adapt them for reuse in
particular    locations  and would avoid the construction   of a
community of stereotyped     public housing projects.

SAVINGS IN DESIGN TIME WOULDRESULT IN
EXPEDITING CONSTRUCTIONSTARTS

       We reviewed HUD files       on about 90 conventional          public
housing projects     se&ted       at random to determine the average
time required     to develop designs--plans          and specifications--
for public housing projects.          These projects      ranged in size
from 12 to 250 living      units,    and an average of 26 months was
required    to develop the projects'        plans.     Our review of cer-
tain public housing projects         that were constructed         on the
bases of modifications       of existing      designs showed that con-
struction    of the projects      was started     from about 5-l/2       to
19 months earlier     than if the projects          had been individually
designed.
       The available    data on time required      to modify an ex-
isting   design for a public housing project          to adapt it for
use in the construction       of another project      is limited     and
may not be truly     representative.       However, information        ob-
tained from a nonprofit       organization    experienced     in the
reuse of designs for the construction          of buildings      indi-
cates that construction       of a building    could reasonably        be
expected to start      about 5 months earlier      when it is based
on the reuse of a design.

Time savings realized  in the construction
of low-rent  public housing

       We identified   a few public housing projects        that had
been constructed     on the basis of existing      designs.      The
following    two examples indicate    that the time needed to de-
sign public housing projects       can be significantly       reduced
when the designs are based on existing        designs.

       The Milwaukee Housing Authority           constructed     three con-
ventional      projects   based on one original       design.     All three
projects     were nine-story      buildings   containing     120 apartments
but were constructed         with different    colored brick.        The
architect      who developed the design for the first            project     was
employed to modify the design to adapt it for the two addi-
tional    projects.     For one of the projects,         the basic design
had to be modified        to provide for a different         foundation
system.      This project     was advertised     for bids within      6-l/2
months after       the architect    agreed to adapt the design for
the project;       the other project      was advertised     for bids
within    4-l/2 months.       HUD records showed that it took about
26 months to develop the original            design.     Therefore,      the
reuse of that design for each of the two projects                 resulted
in time savings of at least 19 months (26 months - 6-l/2
months).

       The Seattle Housing Authority       had two high-rise       turn-
key projects     constructed    on the basis of the same design.
The first    project   was an eight-story      building   containing
81 apartments.       The architect    who developed the design for
that building     was employed to modify the design to provide
for a nine-story      building    to be constructed     at a second
site.     About 1-l/2 months were required         to make the modifi-
cations    to the original     design for the project      at the second

                                      8
site.   Seattle Housing Authority    records showed that about
7 months were required    to develop the design for the ori-
ginal project.   Therefore,   the reuse of the design resljlted
in a time saving of about 5-l/2 months.

Time savings    realized   by   private   organizations
                                                 ----
       Representatives  of a large nonprofit     organization
advised us that they had been reusing designs for the con-
struction    of various types of buildings    for about 8 years,
During 1969 this organization     constructed    about 220 build-
ings in the United States and in other countries.

        This organization's      building   department estimated     that
the size of its technical         staff   would have to be tripled
if individual     designs were developed for the construction
of each building      project.     They estimated also that con-
struction     of a building     could be started    about 5 months
earlier     if it was based on an existing        design.   They also
advised us that the development of an original             design took
about 10 months from the time the architect             was selected
until    final plans were reviewed and approved.           They said,
however, that there was only a 5-month time lapse between
the selection     of an architect       and final  approval of a de-
sign when the building         was based on an existing     design.

       Representatives      of an engineering   and building    firm,
which has been engaged by a corporation          to design and con-
struct   200 high-rise      motels in the United States and in
other countries      during the next 5 years, told us that the
firm had developed a design for a nine-story           building     con-
taining   216 rental     rooms and that most of the 200 motels
would be constructed        on the basis of the design, which
could be modified      to add or delete floors     and rooms.      At
the time of our visit        to the firm,   two 216-room motels had
been completed and four were under construction.
      Representatives     of the firm assisted     us in examining
the working drawings for several motels located in widely
separated areas of the United States.          The drawings showed
that the designs generally      were based on modifications      of
the basic design to meet local conditions          and the site
foundation   requirements,     The representatives     advised us
that the foundations      had to be redesigned     because of the
site soil support conditions      and/or topography and that de-
sign changes were also required because of different       seismic
and climatic   conditions   and fire and building   codes.  =eY
advised us also that all such necessary design changes
could be identified     and made within  30 days after a proposed
site was selected.




                               10
COST REDUCTIONS T-BATCOULD
RESULT FROM REUSE OF DESIGNS
                      --
       Our review showed that the reuse of designs could re-
sult in substantial    reductions    in the cost of designing and
constructing    public housing projects,     We estimate that,
had 50 percent of the projects       placed under construction
during fiscal    year 1970 been based on existing     designs
rather than on individually       developed designs,  savings in
design and construction      costs could have amounted to about
$31 million.

Design costs

       Services of an architect     are generally   required when
public housing designs are reused,         Before its reuse, an
existing    design may have to be modified to adapt it to the
local site, climatic    and seismic conditions,      and building
codes.    The extent to which the cost of designing a public
housing project    can be reduced by reusing an existing        design
is, of course, dependent on the design modifications,,            Our
review indicated,    however9 that design costs generally        were
reduced by about 50 percent when designs were reused.            We
estimate that the reduction      in design costs of the projects
placed in construction    in fiscal    year 1970 would have
amounted to about $12 million       if 50 percent of the projects
had been based on existing      designs.

       We contacted   a number of architectural       firms to obtain
their views as to the reduction          in design costs that could
be realized    by revising   designs.      Their estimates   ranged
from minimal or no reduction        to a reduction    of as much as
80 percent.     The estimates    reflected    their opinions as to
the changes that generally      would be required       to adapt an
existing   design for use at a new site.

        One of the architectural         firms offered to review a pub-
lic housing design selected by us and to provide us with an
estimate of the cost to modify the design to permit its use
in constructing       projects    at three different       locations.   We
selected an eight-story         high-rise     project   that had recently
been completed in Chicago, Illinois,              and requested estimates
of the costs to modify the design to permit its use in con-
structing    projects     at sites in Seattle,        Washington;

                                   11
Dallas,  Texas; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,based           on the
assumption that the topography at each of the sites            would
be comparable to the site in Chicago.

        The president  of the fi-rm advised us that the necessary
design changes could be made at a cost of about $15,000 a
site --a savings of over 60 percent of original        design costs.
The design     changes determined to be necessary included pro-
visions    for widening the stairways    at afl sites,     increasing
ceiling    heights at Philadelphia,   and strengthening       the
structure     because of seismic conditions    at Seattle.

      As discussed on page 8, designs for the construction
of two public housing projects   were based on the reuse of
designs.    Our examination into the costs of these projects
showed that the reuse of designs resulted   in significant   re-
ductions  in design costs.

      1. The Milwaukee Housing Authority       constructed   three
         projects  under the conventional      method on the basis
         of the same design.     The architectIs     fee for modify-
         ing the original   design to adapt it for use in con-
         structing  the two additional     projects   was about
         30 percent of his fee for developing the original
         design.

      2. The Seattle Housing Authority    had two high-rise        proj-
         ects constructed  under the turnkey method on the
         basis of the same design.     The negotiated     contract
         price indicated  that the architect's     fee for modify-
         ing the design for use in constructing       the second
         project was about 65 percent of the indicated          fee
         for developing the design for the first       project.

       In our discussions    with representatives      of the nonprofit
organization     (see p. 9) that had been reusing building          ae-
signs, we were advised that an architect's          fee would average
about 3 percent of the estimated       cost of constructing       a
building    on the basis of an existing      design compared with a
fee of about 6 percent for constructing         a building   on the
basis of the development of a new design.           The records they
made available     to us on the construction      of six projects     at
an estimated     cost exceeding $200,000 each showed that the
architect's    fee ranged from 1.8 to 4.1 percent of the es-
timated cost, or an average fee of about 2,8 percent.
                                   12
      An architect    who had modified existing     designs for the
nonprofit   organization,     advised us that his normal fee to
modify an existing      design was about 2 percent of the esti-
mated construction      cost compared with a normal fee of about
6 percent to develop a completely       new design.

      Representatives of the firm that had reused designs
for the construction  of high-rise  motels advised us that
their experience indicated   that design costs could be re-
duced from 60 to 75 percent by reusing designs--a   cost re-
duction of about two thirds.

       The savings in public housing design costs that could
be achieved through reuse of existing         designs depend on the
modifications      that would be needed to adapt existing     designs
for use in constructing      additional   projects   and the number
of projects    that would be constructed      using existing  designs.
As indicated     in the preceding section9 it appears that the
reuse of designs could result        in a reduction   of from 25 to
65 percent in design costs.

       As of December 31, 1970, about 1,400 individual    project
designs could be made available    to LHAs for the construction
of public housing projects.     The large number of existing
designs indicates   that LHAs could select designs that would
require minimum modifications    and thereby maximize the pos-
sible reduction   in design costs.

       The number of projects    that could be constructed     on
the basis of existing     designs appears to be unlimited.        Two
major factors,    however, tend to limit    reuse of existing     de-
signs--one,    the need for a new design when an LHA's require-
ments cannot be served by an existing       design; the other, the
need for innovative    designs,    to make use  of new construction
techniques or to replace obsolete designs.

      Information obtainedfromarchitects       and other parties
contacted during our review indicated      that generally  designs
would not be seriously    affected   by obsolescence for a period
of 4 to 6 years.

      Our examination   of HUD records for 368 conventional
public housing projects    showed that design costs averaged
about 3.8 percent of total    project  costs and included such

                                  13
items as administrative           cost incurred by an LHA, relocation
costs, etc.,       or about 5 percent of construction          costs,     As-
suming that the average design costs for conventional                  and
turnkey projects        represent     3.8 percent of the total       cost of
a housing project,         we estimate that the design costs for
the 700 projects--        approximately    400 turnkey and 300 conven-
tional    projects--    placed under construction       in fiscal     year
1970 at an estimated         total project     cost of $1.26 billion
would have amounted to $48 million.              The following     table
shows our estimate of the range of savings that could have
been achieved on public housing projects             placed under con-
struction     in fiscal     year 1970, depending on the extent of
the reuse of existing          designs.

           Possible      Savings Through Reuse of Designs

Percent re-
 duction in                    Projects    based on reuse of designs
 architect         PO per-         20 per-    25 per-    50 per-  80 per-
     fees            cent            cent       cent       cent      cent

                                            (millions)

      25                $1.2        $2.4      $3.0       $   6.0     $   9.6
      30                 x.4         2.9       3.6           7.2       11.5
      40                 1*9         3.8       4.8           9.6       15.3
      50                 2.4         4.8       6.0         12.0        19.1
      65                 3.1         6.2       7.8         15.6        25.0

     As indicated    previously   we believe that a reduction
of 50 percent of public housing design costs can reasonably
be predicted   when designs are reused.      If 50 percent of
the projects   placed under construction     in fiscal  year 1970
had been based on existing      designs, the savings in design
costs could have amounted to about $12 million.

Construction    costs

      The reuse of existing     designs could also result    in re-
duced construction     costs through the avoidance of price
escalation.     As previously   pointed out, our review indicated
that construction     of a project   could be started  at least
5 months earlier     when its design was based on the reuse of
an existing    design and therefore    some escalation  of labor
and material    prices could be avoided.
                                       14
.


            Indexes published by the Department of Commerce showed
    that construction     costs escalated at an average rate of
    about 0.8 percent a month over a 4-year period ended July
    1970. Therefore the price escalation            that could have been
    avoided by starting       construction    of a project   5 months
    earlier     could have resulted      in savings of about 4 percent
    of construction     cost.

           Cur examination      of HUD records for the 368 public hous-
    ing projects     indicated     that construction     costs averaged
    about 76 percent of total project          costs.     On this basis, the
    construction     costs of the 700 projects        placed under construc-
    tion during fiscal       year 1970 amounted to about $963 million.
    Assuming that 50 percent of the projects             placed under con-
    struction    in fiscal     year 1970 were based on existing         designs
    and in view of the indicated         escalation     in construction     costs
    of 0.8 percent a month, we estimated that savings in con-
    struction    costs could have amounted to about $19 million.




                                         15
                                    C:-Af'1'ER
                                    ---. __--_- 3

                    REUSING DESIGNS NEED NOT RESULT
                   -----_I___
                    IN   STEPa(JTYPEDPROJECTS BECAUSE

        OF TME AVAILABILITY          OF A LARGE DESIGN  INVENTORY
                                                    __---.
       We estimated   that as of December 31, 1970, about 1,400
individual    project   designs could be made available      to LHAs
for use in constructing       public housing projects.     We believe
that the availability       of such a large number of project     de-
signs would permit an LHA to select a design that would
avoid the construction       of stereotyped  projects  within   a com-
munity.

        Because LHAs have the primary responsibility               for devel-
opment of public housing projects,               the feasibility     of making
greater use of existing           project    designs depends on their
willingness       to cooperate with HUD. They must be willing                to
share their designs and to use designs of other IHAs.                     We
interviewed       representatives      of 39 LHAs both in large metro-
politan    cities     and in small communities to ascertain            whether
they would be interested           in participating      in a program to
promote reuse of project           designs.      About 85 percent of these
MAs expressed a willingness               to cooperate in implementing         a
program to promote greater use of existing                 project   designs.

       HUD has generally     followed the practice        of permitting
each housing project      to be individually       designed.     HUD's
suggested contract     form for use by LHAs in turnkey projects
does not provide for title         to the project     designs to be
transferred    to LHAs. HLTD's standard form architect            contract
used by IZAs for conventional         projects,    however, provides
that all drawings,     tracings,     and specifications      prepared by
the architects    become the property        of IXAs.

     HUD records         show that about 1,700 conventional   projects
have been placed         under construction  since July 1965.1 These


‘This date was selected because information  obtained during our review indicated that
 some designs might become obsolete after a period of 5 years. However,there may be
 project designs which are older than 5 years that could be reused.

                                          16
projects    included low-rise     and high-rise     projects  and ranged
from small projects      with a few living      units to large proj-
ects with 1,000 units.        Discussions    with representatives     of
LT3As indicate    that about 1,400 project       designs could be made
available     to LHAs for use in constructing        public housing
projects.

       One technique for promoting reuse of project               designs
would be for HUD to assemble a catalog of existing                 designs
and make it available        to LHAs. The catalog could be devel-
oped from LHAs'project         designs and could be limited         to ba-
sic information,       such as pictures     or drawings of a project,
typical   floor plans, and other basic data.              Detailed    working
drawings,    specifications,       and other specific      data could be
provided by any LHA expressing           an interest     in constructing
one of the projects        portrayed   in the catalog.        Designs in
the catalog could be continually           augmented to incorporate
new innovative      designs and construction         techniques.

        The use of a catalog system is merely one possible  ap-
proach to promoting reuse of designs.     This is not intended
to indicate    that other methods may not be more practical  or
effective.     We believe that HUD should study various ap-
proaches to encouraging reuse of project     designs.

        The turnkey method of constructing             public housing has
become increasingly         significant      since it was adopted in 1965.
Over 55 percent of the 700 housing projects                 placed in con-
struction      during fiscal      year 1970 were turnkey projects.
Therefore,       to realize    the full     benefits   of reusing project
designs,     it would be necessary to make existing              designs
available      for use on turnkey as well as conventional              proj-
ects.     It would also be necessary for LHAs contracts                with
developers       to provide for LJ3A.sto acquire title           to the de-
signs so that they would be available                to use on other low-
rent housing projects          and to augment the inventory          of avail-
able designs.         Because    the  costs   negotiated    for  turnkey
projects     include all costs to be incurred            in constructing
the project,       it appears that there should be little             or no
additional       cost if the contract        with a turnkey developer
provides for LHA to acquire title               to designs for turnkey
projects.




                                      17
                                CHAJ?TER4

    WILLINGNESS OF ARCHITECTS TO MODIFY EXISTING DESIGNS

      Our review indicated     that in most cases changes would
have to be made in an existing        project   design to adapt it
for use at a new site.       Therefore the willingness     of archi-
tects to make such changes, not only to the designs they
developed but to designs developed by other architects,            is
an important   consideration     in determining    whether reuse of
designs for public housing is feasible.

        We interviewed     82 architects     to ascertain       whether they
would be willing       to modify existing       project     designs for re-
use,     These architects     were located in various areas of the
United States, and many of them had designed one or more
projects     for an LHA or for other organizations              that had con-
structed     projects   with financial      assistance      from HUD. About
75 percent of these architects           indicated      that they would be
willing    to consider modifying        an existing       design.     -nY
stated,    however, that they would have to satisfy                themselves
that a design was good enough to justify               its reuse before
they would agree to make needed changes.

        We also contacted the State Board of Architecture           or
other similar     regulatory      body for each State and the Dis-
trict    of Columbia to determine whether there were any exist-
ing laws or regulations         that would preclude the reuse of
designs, particularly        the use or modification      by an archi-
tect of plans developed by another.             Our contacts with the
aforementioned     bodies have indicated        that most States have
laws or regulations       that are intended to discourage an ar-
chitect    from indiscriminately       placing his seal on designs
which are not prepared by him or under his supervision              and
that the intent      of this requirement      is to ensure that build-
ings are adequately designed to protect             the health, safety,
and welfare    of the public.

      As of September 1971 two States had advised us that
reuse of designs would not be acceptable under existing           laws
or regulations--    these States had an insignificant       number of
low-rent    public housing units--and       six States had not ad-
vised us of their      final determinations     on this matter.   The
remaining    States and the District      of Columbia advised us
that the reuse of designs would be acceptable.
                                   18
                              CHAPTER5

               RECOMMENDATIONS,AGENCYCOMNTS,

                        AND OUR EVALUATION

RECOMMENDATIONS
              TO THE SECRETARYOF HUD

       We recommend that,   because significant    benefits  can be
realized   through reuse of designs for public housing and
because IBAs have indicated     their willingness     to help achieve
these benefits,    HUD implement appropriate     procedures to en-
courage greater    reuse of designs for public housing projects.

      We recommend also that,  because LHAs do not acquire
ownership of designs for public housing projects        acquired
under the turnkey method, HUD require    that LHA contracts
with developers under the turnkey method provide for acquir-
ing title   to designs so that they will   be available    for re-
use e

AGENCYCOMMENTSAND OUR EVALUATION

       HUD, in commenting on a draft       of this report     in letters
dated July 21 and 22, 1971 (see app. I.>,           informed 'us that
there are potential      economies in time and total        development
cost in the reuse of public housing project            plans and speci-
fications    modified  to fit  different    sites for such projects.
HUD pointed out, however, that there are constraints              which
limit    the degree to which reuse of plans would produce sav-
ings but stated that it believes         encouraging greater      reuse
of superior    designs by LHAs would be desirable          and feasible.

     HUD's objections     to our recommendations       are summarized
and evaluated below.

      HUD informed us that public housing should not become
      standardized    and must reflect  the architectural    stan-
      dards of the neighborhood and community.         Also, because
      of the importance    of local determinations     in the public
      housing program, local people should decide the feasi-
      bility   of reusing a design in their     community,



                                    19
      HUD stated that LHAs presently   have the option of reus-
       ing designs but that the choice of designs for reuse
      might be widened and facilitated   by a program which
      would systematically  bring good plans to their atten-
      tion in ways which would maximize opportunities   to re-
      'use designs suitable to local needs.

      HUD stated also that implementation        of such an arrange-
      ment would involve an extensive     effort    and widespread
      cooperation  by LHAs and the architectural         firms serving
      them as well as considerable    federal     assistance   in pro-
      viding personnel,  consultants,    printed    material,   visual
      aids, etc.

      Our recommendation is not intended to indicate          that
U-IAs, through the reuse of design plans, should develop
standardized     low-rent     housing projects  or projects which do
not reflect    the architect~ural     standards of a neighborhood
or community,       As pointed out on page 16, the inventory       of
about 1,400 project       designs could be made available    to IXAs
for selection,      and such variety     would preclude the necessity
of duplicating      a project    in any one community,

       With respect to the encouragement of greater reuse of
existing    housing project      designs, about 85 percent of LHAs
interviewed     expressed a willingness       to cooperate in imple-
menting a program to promote greater reuse of existing                 de-
signs.     (See  p* 16.).     About   75 percent  of   the  architects
interviewed     indicated    that they would be willing        to modify
an existing     design.     (See p, 18.).     Many of these architects,
however, stated that they would have to satisfy              themselves
that a design was good enough to justify            its reuse before
they would agree to make any needed changes to adapt it for
use at a particular       location,     We believe that, because there
is a willingness       by both LJ3A.sand architects       to reuse de-
signs and because there are a large number of existing                 de-
signs, the Federal assistance          needed to promote such a pro-
gram should be provided and that the costs associated                 with
providing     such assistance     would be minimal compared with the
considerable      savings in time and costs that could be achieved,

      HUD stated that the rights    to plans would need to be
      obtained and that appropriate    arrangements would need
      to be developed to facilitate    modification of the plans

                                   20
      to suit other sites and location      characteristics       and
      to fix responsibilities    of the architects       selected to
      modify designs developed by others,        HUD stated also
      that future contracts   for architectural      services     on
      new designs would need to provide for their           reuse un-
      der stated conditions   at HUD's option.

       HUD's standard form architect        contract    ,used by LHAs for
conventional     public housing projects       provides that all de-
signs, including       drawings, tracings,     and specifications,
prepared by architects         are the property    of LHAs. Therefore
LHAs need only to acquire title         to project     designs for turn-
key projects,     which could be accomplished by incorporating
similar   provisions      in turnkey contracts.

       With respect to architects'        modifying   existing     designs,
most States have laws or regulations           that are intended to
discourage an architect       from indiscriminately        placing his
seal on designs that are not developed by him or under his
supervision.     The intent     of this requirement      is to ensure
that buildings     are adequately     designed to protect       the health,
safety,    and welfare  of  the   public.    Therefore     the architect's
responsibility     would continue to be governed by State laws
and regulations.

      Forty-two     States and the District  of Columbia advised
us that the reuse of project      designs would be acceptable,
and abaut 75 percent of the architects       we interviewed  indi-
cated that they would be willing       to consider modifying   exist-
ing project     designs to adapt the designs for use in particu-
lar locations.

      HUD questioned our estimate    of the time and construction
      costs savings and stated that these economies might not
      be as extensive  as we estimated.    HUD also indicated
      doubt as to whether the turnkey program would be af-
      fected by greater reuse of public housing plans.

       Our review showed that two housing authorities         realized
time savings of 5-l/2 and 19 months when design plans were
reused,     Further,  information    that we obtained from a non-
profit   organization    experienced    in design reuse indicated
that construction     could reasonably be expected to start at
least 5 months earlier      when designs are reused,      On the basis

                                    21
of these facts,    we believe that time savings of 5 months
would be possible,     We noted also that the two housing au-
thorities    that had reused design plans realized   savings--
the architects'    fees were approximately  30 percent and 65 per-
cent of the fee charged for designing the original       project,

      We believe that, because of the time savings,       the re-
use of designs should result     in reduced construction     costs
through the avoidance of price escalation.        Bur estimates
for time savings and construction      cost savings were developed
to show that savings are available      when designs plans are
reused.   The savings in public housing design costs that
could be achieved through reuse of existing       designs depends
on the modifications     that would be needed to adapt existing
designs for use in constructing     additional   projects   and the
number of projects    that would be constructed    using existing
designs.

        We believe that LHAs could obtain title           to turnkey
 projects   designs and have a wider selection           of designs to
 choose from.      We believe further      that the economies available
 from reuse of designs, which, HUD states,            are currently
-available   under the turnkey program, would be increased if
 m-owned     designs are made available         to turnkey developers.
 Our belief    is based on the fact that cost breakdowns of
 negotiated    turnkey contract    prices show that they include
 design costs which are generally          as high as the design costs
 for conventional     projects;  therefore     we believe that,      if
 LHAs made existing      designs available      to turnkey developers,
 the LHAs would be in a position         to negotiate     lower overall
 costs for such projects.

      HUD stated that public housing sites--terrain,         subsoil
      conditions,    orientation,  existing    trees, zoning, street
      and utility    layouts-- commonly differ     so widely that
      development of completely     new site and landscape plans
      is inevitable.

        We agree that public housing designs would have to be
modified    to adapt the designs to local conditions        and par-
ticularly     to meet foundation   requirements.    As pointed out
on page 8, LHAs have reused project        designs.    Representa-
tives of an engineering       and building   firm advised us that
necessary changes in the basic design for buildings           that it


                                   22
was constructing   could be identified     and made within    30 days
after a proposed site was selected.        We believe therefore
that the revision   of a public housing design to adapt it for
use under specific   site landscape and other conditions        would
not present a major problem to LHAs or architects         involved
in the development of low-rent      public housing.

      HUD stated that it hopes to develop a systematic            method
      of bringing     successful  public housing designs to the
      attention     of housing authorities,    nationwide,    for their
      consideration.      HUD concluded by stating      that the re-
      use of designs except under special conditions,            was
      neither    feasible   nor desirable   but that extensive     ef-
      forts to assist IXAs and their architects           in design
      of good and more economical housing would be vigorously
      pursued.

        In view of the urgent need for decent housing for low-
income families      and our conviction      that significant        bene-
fits    could be realized      through the reuse of public housing
designs, we disagree with HUD's position              that, except ,under
special conditions,        it is neither   feasible      nor desirable     to
reuse design plans.          Further,  we believe that HUD's pro-
posal to encourage reuse of only superior               housing designs
would limit      the number of project      designs for selection         by
LHAs and would not afford IHAs the opportunity                to reuse
project     designs which go ,unrecognized but which are attrac-
tive,    well designed, and suitable        to the needs of certain
communities.        We believe also that by reusing only superior
designs, which would of course limit             the number of designs
an LHA would have at its disposal,            it is possible that fu-
ture public housing projects          could become stereotyped         and
monotonous and thus would not reflect              the architectural
standards of the neighborhood and community.




                                      23
                                                                        APPENDIX I



        THE   SECRETARY   OF   HOUSING        AND      URBAN   DEVELOPMENT
                           WASHINGTON,        D   C.   20410

                               July       21, 1971




Mr. Victor L. Lowe
Associate Director, Civil Division
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548

Dear Mr. Lowe:

Thank you for your letter  of March 29 enclosing for review and
comment the GAO draft report, Benefits That Could Be Realized
Through Reuse Of Designs For Public Housing Projects.

While I do not agree with the conclusions of this report, and
have asked Assistant Secretary-Commissioner      Gulledge to respond
in more detail,   we expect to include in our issuances a dis-
cussion of the benefits of existing     successful designs such as
those receiving design awards and resident acclaim and suggest
that local housing authorities    consider such reuse possibilities
at the initiation   of project planning.

                                         Si merely,
                                          R


                                         George Romney




                                         25
            APPENDIX I



                             DEPARTMENT               OF    HOUSING      AND        URBAN     DEVELOPMENT

                                            FEDERAL           HOUSING       ADMINISTRATION
                                                           WASHINGTON,      D. C.    20411




ASSISTANT    SECRETARY-COMMISSIONER                             JUL 22 1971


  Mr. Victor      L. Lowe
  Associate      Director,     Civil   Division
  United    States     General    Accounting                 Office
  Washington,       D. C.     20548

  Dear      Mr.   Lowe:

  Secretary  Romney             has asked me to respond        to your request    of March 29, 1971, for
  comments  on your             draft     of a proposed report     to the Congress     entitled       “Benefits That
  Could be Realized               through    Reuse of Designs    for Public    Housing     Projects.”

  There     is a potential     for economies     in time and total        development                              cost    in the idea
  of reusing     plans     and specifications      for public    housing    projects,                              modified     to fit
  different     sites.      However,    we do not believe     that   these    economies                             would be as
  extensive     as estimated      in the draft     report.

  There are constraints,         some of which         I am sure you recognize,          which   limit    the
  degree    to which     reuse of plans      is feasible       to produce      savings.     With the qualifi-
  cations     and limitations     enumerated       below,    we believe      it to be desirable        and
  feasible     to encourage    greater     reuse of superior         designs      by local   housing    author-
  ities    under  the low-rent      public     housing    program.

  Congress          has directed        that     public        housing      reflect       architectural            standards          of the
  neighborhood             and community.            This      directive       must      be  followed         by   local       housing
  authorities           and by HUD in determining                     where and under what circumstances                            it is
  appropriate            to reuse housing            plans.         Public      housing      projects         stand      in quite       a
  different          light     from motels         or similar          establishments            built      by national           chains
  with      standard        designs.        There       is commercial           value     to standardization                 of motels
  since       the traveling          public       identifies          a motel       chain with         certain       facilities
  already        tried      and found       satisfactory.              This objective            does not apply              to public
  housing.           It is important           for public           housing       to be part        of its neighborhood                 and
  not set apart             from other       housing         units      in the locality.               A home presents             a very
  different          set of requirements               from a motel,            stemming       from permanent              occupancy
  and need for a varied                community           life.

  Because of the importance       of local      determinations         in                     a public   housing  program,
  we believe    local people   should     decide     the feasibility                           of reus ing a design     in
  their   community.   We already     g ive housing        authorities                         the opt ion of reusing



                                                                         26
                                                                                                     APPENDIX I


designs        in their   public    housing      programs     but we agree         that    the choice      of designs
for reuse might          be widened      and facilitated          by a program        which would      systematically
bring      good plans     to their     attention        in ways which would maximize               opportunities
to reuse designs          suitable     to local       needs.       Implementation        of such an arrangement
will     involve      an extensive     effort     and widespread          cooperation        by local    housing
authorities         and the architectural           firms    serving      them as well        as considerable
federal       assistance      in providing       personnel,       consultants,        printed    material,       visual
aids,      etc.

The rights     to plans would need to be obtained                        and appropriate       arrangements       devel-
oped to facilitate          their   modification          to suit        other  sites      and location     character-
istics   and to fix       responsibilities          of architects            who might      be selected     to modify
designs    prepared     by others.          Future    contracts          for architectural         services    on new
designs    would need to make provision                 for reuse          under         stated    conditions         at    the
option   of HUD.       These steps         may transfer       some        current         design    costs       to   an    in-
creased    departmental        administrative         budget.

Again     the expectation             of total       savings       in time and expense             is probably       not as
great     as your draft           report      suggests.          The estimate         of an average        time savings
of 19 months         or 76 weeks is questionable                     F In a circular           dated    January      22, 1969,
HUD established            milestones         of 42 weeks in conventional                   projects     and 18 weeks in
turnkey      projects       for the local            authority’s        planning        and design      period.        Adding
HUD review,        these       times might         increase       to 57 and 33 weeks,             respectively.           Savings
of 76 weeks is hardly                 conceivable        even if the milestones                are optimistic.            If
these milestones            are not met HUD policy                   now provides        for contract        cancellations.
We must point           out that        production       of plans       and specifications            alone     does not
account      for the long development                   periods       mentioned.         Pub1 ic projects        require
many more approvals               and time than do private                  projects.        Reuse of plans          will    not
help    in this       respect       to any great         degree.

The estimated         reduction     in construction       costs    is also questionable.          The types
of structure        used in public      housing      are well    known to building       contractors,     and
most of them        already     have enough      cost experience      to propose    prices     that   are
competitive.          Price escalation        is a factor     of time and most delays          are not
design     time.
                                                      [See GAO note,                p.      28.1

The concept       of the increasingly             popular      turnkey      program      is to have developers
offer   to build        housing      of types      in which      they have had experience,                 can fully      apply
the economies        which      come from repetitive             production,        and can therefore            build    at a
lesser    cost.       The economies         available       from reuse of designs              and from construction
by a builder        largely       inherent      in the turnkey         concept.        The turnkey         developer      may,
for example,        offer     to build      and sell      to the local          housing     authority        for use as a
public    housing       project      a structure      following        plans which         he has previously           used
successfully        in building         a conventional         project       for the general          rental     market.


'GAO note:         The 19-month  time savings                 referred     to in the report     relate    only to
                   two projects  in Milwaukee,                  Wisconsin.      Our computation      of cost sav-
                   ings was based on a time                 savings     of 5 months,   as shown on page 15.



                                                                27
        APPENDIX           I




 It is doubtful      whether    the turnkey     program    would   be affected    by the proposed
plan for greater       reuse of public       housing    plans,    and I would    not expect  that
there  would    be any significant        saving     in this   category    of construction   under
the public     housing    program.

We plan to explore              possibilities            for greater          reuse of housing             designs      with
appropriate         adaptations         consistent          with    architectural            standards        of the neighbor-
hood and community.                One effort          in this      direction         is HUD’s design            awards
program      in which meritorious                 projects       are given         wide recognition.               LHA’s are
familiarized          not only with             the projects          but perhaps           more important,           with
architects        of skill        and experience.              We believe          the response          to plan reuse
of the local          housing      authorities           and architectural              firms    which serve          the
housing      program       may be favorable              especially         in some row house or cluster
housing      projects        where superiority              has been demonstrated                 in designs         producing
liveability,          attractiveness           and low maintenance.                   To use such plans             with     a
minimum of alterations,                 similar        conditions        governing          such factors         as codes,
wind and snow loads,               fuel     and energy          costs    skills       of local       labor      and avail-
ability      of materials          would      have to be much the same if appreciable                              design
savings      for the buildings              were to be made.               As for the site,              however,       identical
conditions        are hard to imagine                where terrain,             subsoil      conditions,         orientation,
existing       trees,      zoning,      street       and utility         layouts        commonly       differ      so widely
that     a completely          new site       and landscape           plans      are inevitable.

We hope to develop        a systematic        method     of bringing       successful                  project      design
to the attention        of housing     authorities         on a nationwide        basis                for their       con-
sideration.        Design  reuse except         under    special    conditions        is              neither     feasible
nor desirable       but extensive      efforts      to assist      LHA’s and their                     architects        in
design      of good and more economical            housing    will   be vigorously                     pursued.

                                                                        Sincerely    yours,

                                                                         e tee- fct,
                                                                        cc
                                                                        EugenT     . Gulledge
                                                       Assistant          Secretary-Commissioner



 GAO     note:          Deleted comments relate  to matters discussed in
                        the draft report but omitted from the final   reDort.




                                                                   28
                                                                 APPENDIX II


                              PRINCIPAL OFFICIALS OF THE

                   DEPARTMENTOF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

                 RESPONSIBLE FOR ADMINISTRATION OF ACTIVITIES

                               DISCUSSED IN THIS REPORT


                                                     Tenure of office
                                                     From            -To
SECRETARYOF HOUSING AND URBAN
  DEVELOPMENT(formerly   Adminis-
  trator,  Housing and Home Fi-
  nance Agency):
     Robert C. Weaver                            Feb.     1961    Dec. 1968
     Robert C. Wood                              JEill.   1969    Jan.    1969
     George W. Romney                            Jan.     1969    Present

ASSISTANT SECRETARYFOR HOUSING
  MANAGEMENT:
    Don Hummel                                   May      1966    Feb. 1969
    Howard J. Wharton (acting)                   Feb.     1969    Mar.    1969
    Lawrence M. Cox                              Mar.     1969    July    1970
    Norman V. Watson                             July     1970    Present

ASSISTANT SECRETARYFOR HOUSING
  PRODUCTIONAND MORTGAGECREDIT
  AND FEDERAL HOUSING COMMIS-
  SIONER:
    Eugene A. Gulledge                           Oct.     1969    Present




              Wash.,
U.S.   GAO,            D.C.
                                          29
Copies  of this report are available       from the
U. S. General Accounting      Office, Room 6417,
441 G Street, N VU., Washington,     D.C., 20548.

Copies    are provided   without       charge to Mem-
bers of Congress,       congressional          committee
staff members, Government          off icia Is, members
of the press, college      libraries,      faculty mem-
bers and students.      The price to the general
public   is $1 .OO a copy.     Orders should be ac-
companied    by cash or check.