Friday, January 16, 2009

Stimulus Dollars for USDA

Everyone gets a piece of the pie. Though a friend and reader beat me to it, here's the excerpt from Government Executive:

"Agriculture Department

  • $650 million for construction and improvements at National Forest Service facilities
  • $209 million for deferred maintenance at Agricultural Research Service facilities
  • $245 million to critical information technology improvements at the Farm Service Agency
  • $44 million to repair and improve security at USDA headquarters
  • $300 million for fire hazard reduction
  • $400 million for watershed improvement programs at the Natural Resources Conservation Service"
Don't know where the fire hazard is, South Building, maybe? (More seriously, likely in the National Forests.) I know Secretary-designate Vilsack mentioned the technology issue for FSA, but the GAO reports I've read haven't been exactly enthusiastic about the FSA computer project (MIDAS). I wonder how much of the money is for hardware and how much for software, and how much for the computer consultants. And how much of it can be wisely spent in FY2009 (which will have 7 months to go when the money becomes available).

I'm also struck by the security line. Edward Hodgman at Understanding Government blogged on the problems of getting into the Treasury Department. I know many would like to blow up the IRS (I'm joking), but few feel that strongly about USDA. When I started work at USDA there were 16 entrances to the South Building, all unguarded. Now?--don't ask.

And does NRCS have a watershed program on the back burner?


i work there said...

Where does one begin when trying to summarize the current state of USDA IT? Sec'y Vilsack has a hard row to hoe ahead of him if he's serious about bring the department up to speed technologically.

Bill Harshaw said...

I don't know where the money is headed--more hardware for KC server-farm or for counties? Given the past history, I'm not confident of the future either.