On Sept. 7, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the realignment of a number of offices within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in order to improve customer service and maximize efficiency. The changes build on the reorganization Perdue announced in May.
As a follow to the USDA announcement, the National Association of Conservation Districts' director of government affairs Coleman Garrison shared more information in a recent blog post.
Below are excerpts:
First, USDA has communicated to NACD that its most recent proposal is in no way moving NRCS responsibilities for Farm Bill program administration out of NRCS.
USDA writes “…some agencies maintain redundant administrative support functions, including human resources, information technology (IT), finance, procurement, and property management.” Instead of NRCS, FSA, and RMA having separate authorities, these “mission support activities will be merged at the mission area level across USDA.”
While these administrative functions may seem mundane, in practice they ensure consistent operations at the service center level. NACD is concerned that moving hiring, information technology, leasing, and other administrative functions to another level may inhibit the speed at which these activities are accomplished.
Second, USDA is formally asking for public comment on its proposed reorganization plans, due by October 8, through a notice published today in the Federal Register. As a key conservation delivery partner to USDA, NACD and conservation districts require more stakeholder engagement than most in planning for the reorganization. With direct engagement, we can offer concrete input and advice to the Agriculture Secretary on how conservation districts can help USDA to more effectively deliver conservation assistance and improve customer service—a goal we share with the department.