Sunday, May 31, 2015

USDA "Receipt for Service" Initiative I

USDA's Office of Advocacy and Outreach published an FR notice of a June meeting on USDA's "Receipt for Service" initiative.

What is the initiative?  Damned if anyone could tell from the notice.  There's no description of what it is, beyond a reference to a paragraph in the 2008 farm bill, and an amendment in the 2014 farm bill.  No links, no nothing.

But I've belatedly discovered that one can highlight a phrase, right click, and get an option to use Google to search for the phrase.  So what did I discover?

Three years after the 2008 farm bill, in 2011, OCIO published a department reg requiring the field agencies to issue AD-2088 when requested.  In January 2012 FSA issued a notice on it, NRCS issued the equivalent, RD apparently didn't issue anything, at least unlike the first two they don't show up on the first page of Google results.  The AD-2088 basically provides blanks for a narrative description of what service the farmer requested, and what happened to the request.  Importantly, the 2008 provision only required the AD-2088 be issued if the farmer requested it. Also important--the Department reg didn't require any reports.  I suspect, without researching it, that reports were never required.

 Exploring further, it seems Congress, in their wisdom, in 2014 amended the 2008 provision to require issuing a receipt in all cases.  As a result, NRCS, FSA, and RD got together and did an on-line app, one which requires a 27-page manual: "Web Receipt for Service (webRFS) User’s Guide".  FSA issued a notice, CM-753, which includes a memo signed by the Food and Agriculture council, to the state directors plus the Q&A's for FSA. [Note to self: how'd I miss it last fall?]

Apparently webRFS is the front-end to a database, which is searchable, and presumably will support statistical reports.

Now, back to the meeting:  the material on the webRFS says that it's "Phase I" and that there will be an evaluation of the webRFS and the need for any additional action.

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