Friday, December 14, 2012


FCW refers to the 6-month review of the digital government strategy.  Via links, I come on this page from USDA.  From what I see, it appears USDA is bragging on the Office Information Profile system.

I'm amazed, really amazed. OIP was a result of work in the 1990's, Paul Whitmore from FSA and someone from NRCS and RD, which had actually evolved from Gerry Deibert's efforts to construct a database of USDA offices back in the day when Sec. Madigan was trying to consolidate field offices.

Unfortunately, it got done as a separate silo from SCIMS, which was unfortunate, or at least I thought so then.  Anyhow over the years I've occasionally looked at the OIP page(s) just to see what's happened.  I could swear, though I might be wrong, that NRCS had dropped the links to it, though it seems to be back now.  It's not evident on the USDA web page.

It looks to me as if maybe they blew the dust off the old software, added in the link to the Bing map  (which is good) and resurrected it.  I wonder what sort of usage statistics USDA maintains on it.  Pardon my doubts, but I think the design too closely reflects the bureaucracies involved, rather than meeting the needs of the user.  If I'm looking for an FSA/NRCS/RD office:
  • I might be looking for the closest one to my current location, or a specific location.  In that case, I'd be best off if office locations were integrated with Google maps (and Bing, etc.). In other words, if I stick Reston, VA in Google maps, and add the ": FSA office", it should flag the closest office.  Or if I add ":gov", it should show the closest government offices.  Seems to me this would be good for OMB or whoever to work on.  I tried this sort of search a few times and the results vary.  The closest FSA office to Reston is at 14th and Independence, but it didn't show the county offices.  RD and NRCS didn't get that result.
  • if I want to know which office services a specific geographic area, the OIP does okay, except for the fact you need to drill down through state, to county, to agency.  If you ask Google: "what FSA office serves Mills County, IA?, I get the state office, not the county office.

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