By the time I'd retired, I had a collection of coffee mugs. One was labelled "InfoShare", which was about the only product of a multi-million dollar effort, originally instigated by Secretary Madigan and carried on for a while by the Dems, to get the various USDA agencies which work with farmers to share their information. One of the areas was the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation and ASCS (by 1994 RMA and FSA). Both got reports of which fields were planted to which crops so it seemed a no-brainer that there should be a common reporting date, a common acreage report, disaster reports, etc. Well, this week FSA issued a notice which represents a some progress in that supposedly simple change.
Reading between the lines I see the simplification and standardization effort still has a ways to go. This much progress wasn't a result of the initial Infoshare project, but of Congress putting a provision in the farm bill. (Not the 2008 farm bill, but the 2002 farm bill--only takes 7 years to make progress.)
I really feel guilty, at least a little, mocking USDA for this. It's true there were and are reasons for the differences in the operations of the two agencies, and therefore the data collected by each. So, unless you have someone with a 2 x 4 in the right position, progress is difficult.
[Note: I'm upgrading to Windows 7.0 today, so blogging will be light.]