Housing and Urban Development Secretary Samuel R. Pierce Jr. said yesterday that he will appeal an Office of Budget and Management order to stop collecting information about the racial and ethnic characteristics of home mortgage loan guarantee applicants.
HUD needs the data in "the enforcement of its civil rights program," Pierce said.
OMB formally notified the agency this week that it would disapprove loan applications containing such questions. In February, it sent a similar directive to the Veterans Administration and said it would follow suit with HUD.
The loan guarantee application is one of several HUD forms gathering that kind of information that OMB has disapproved at least in part in recent weeks.
The VA has not appealed the OMB decision; it has until May 25 to send OMB its revised form eliminating the disapproved questions.
However, "We do plan to appeal," said James P. Kane, an assistant general counsel for the VA.
"Initially," Kane said, the appeal "probably would be verbal, general counsel to general counsel," in the form of discussions between Donald L. Ivers of the VA and Michael J. Horowitz of OMB. Ivers was out of town yesterday and his office said he could not be reached.
HUD general counsel John J. Knapp said that in notifying his agency OMB "sent us a copy of the action they took on the VA," without further elaboration. Last week, June Q. Koch, assistant secretary of HUD for policy development and research, noted that HUD's application form did not expire until 1987.
The memo to the VA said information provided by questions about race "are not necessary for proper performance of the agency. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act vests administrative enforcement responsibilities with respect to different classes of creditors in specific financial regulatory agencies." The memo said the collection of the information by the VA is "therefore duplicative" and "unapprovable under the terms of the Paperwork Reduction Act." CHANGE OF CONTRACT . . .
HUD has agreed to make changes in a new contract used by the agency and local public-housing authorities after leaders of public housing groups contended it would give HUD too much power over local decisions and actions.
The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) said the new annual contributions contracts (ACCs) gave HUD greater control over how individual housing authorities used their funds.
The association also objected that the contracts gave HUD authority to cut back on federal funds by amounts equal to "program receipts, such as interest income."
The ACCs establish the amount of money HUD has to provide to cover housing subsidies for low-income families in the Section 8 and housing voucher programs. They also define the housing authorities' duties, according to Steven Balis, an attorney adviser in the office of the HUD general counsel.
Balis said HUD revised its contract last December to adapt it to the new housing voucher program and to make the contract shorter and simpler to use. Some of the language in the contract that was intended as "clarification of budgetary controls" was interpreted more broadly by the local housing authorities than HUD had intended, Balis said.