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Feb2011 by cuiliqing


									                                                               Building Rural America
                                                 National Association of Credit Specialists
                                                                        of the
                                                        USDA – Farm Service Agency

                                   February 2011
      In this newsletter you can find:
          Notes from National Board Meetings with National Office Staff
          What’s happening in NACS
          Information on National Convention in Salt Lake City

                        NACS Board traveled to Washington DC January 10-12

Jonathan Coppess, FSA Administrator with Lisa Hoffman, Chris Wood, Katie Richburg, LeAnn Gibbs, Kim
Depasquale, Marcus Graham (Special Asst to Jonathon), Maureen Mausbach, Joe Austin, Mark Drewitz, and Stu
     Civil Rights
           o Pigford II - Congress appropriated the funds with no cost to the Agency and no work for the Agency like
               we had in Pigford I
           o Keepseagle Settlement – Agency has to pay $20 million towards administrative costs and we have paid
               $10 million so far; this will come out of the Salary and Expense Account
           o Garcia and Love -will be a Unified claims process not a settlement and will be 1 process; expecting a
               similar amount of administrative costs to come out of Salary and Expense for the independent claims
               processing; this could come out of FY 12, but need to budget for it in FY 11
     Furloughs
           o Have not talked about it yet, looking at all options for the Budget problems
           o Last thing we want to do is impact our ongoing operations
     NACS requested a travel budget from the Agency not a number of attendees limited to once a year. Mark
       explained that in FY 10 NACS travel costs were $43,000 and we are now requesting $20,000.
           o    Mark explained that he has talked to the other employee associations and he understood that they were
                going to make a similar request. Jonathon questioned how associations felt if some came twice and
                others only once based on a budget. Mark explained that we saved money by sharing rooms and some
                traveling home early and that was our choice so that another visit could be considered.
            o Jonathon replied that they would consider our request
      GOVTRIP - Mark explained that the required use of GOVTRIP increases travel costs in some cases and that we
       have received conflicting answers regarding book flights
            o Jonathon will work with Carolyn to determine what options we have with GOVTRIP
      Budget issues
            o Jonathon wanted to pass on the message that operations in the field is a priority and they are looking at
                all options to deliver our programs effectively
            o Hiring freeze? – still in a Continuing Resolution (CR) and we are not sure what will happened March 4th,
                may be a freeze or modified freeze
            o Could be dealing with a full year CR less 20%, then no options could be off the table even consolidations
      Civil Rights Complaints – Agency only had 37 in FY 10
            o Using an Alternative Dispute resolution process to work with problems before becomes a complaint
            o FLP did do training for the Civil Rights Investigators
            o Jonathon agreed to visit with Civil Rights Investigators about Employee Rights
      Farm Loan Program Director of Servicing Position
            o The position was readvertised as part of the Department’s Cultural Transformation
            o Duties will stay similar
            o Will be able to open to a wider field of candidates
            o Director of Loan Servicing will go through a similar process
      Mark asked about the upcoming Zone Meetings and that we requested 1 attendee from FLP and 1 from the
       Administrative side and if can’t attend we would like someone in an Electronic version
      Jonathon wrapped up the meeting saying that the bottom line of the Budget issues is to look for cost savings
       and better ways to do our processes and he would like input on how we can do this

Carolyn Cooksie, Associate Administrator

      GOVTRIP – Carolyn said a notice was prepared, but she sent it back to explore further as the National Office staff
       had been booking non refundable flights outside of GOVTRIP
          o We do have a contract with GOVTRIP and will have to continue to use until contract is up
          o Need to watch for a notice on this
      NACS travel issue
          o Someone would need to watch the budget (DAFO)
          o Chris did bring it up in the Executive Leadership Committee and will discuss further
      Employee Rights regarding Civil Rights Investigations
          o Employees can ask for questions in writing
          o Employees can ask about the accusations against them
          o Employees should ask for clarifications if don’t understand questions

DAFO Staff- John Chott, Trina Brake, Ken Nagel, Star Bryant, and Rick Pinkston

      Farm Analyst Position
          o Currently have 18 positions
          o John Chott said should be in field and the ones that are not are assisting the field
          o NACS is concerned that it is not used consistently state to state
      NACS travel
          o Explained our proposal
          o Trina suggested that DAFO will send out something to all Associations Presidents so that all Associations
              could be treated the same
      GOVTRIP
           o Star Bryant said that it is required by the USDA
           o Agreed that we should watch for a notice to be issued after they research
      Key Program Technician
           o Pilot program that was developed after NASCOE and NASE requested a look at the grading of the PT
           o NASCOE had put several positions forward and Barbara Boyd from HRD put together a Working group
               and this was the position developed
           o Originally had requested 1 per District or 235 positions, but are doing 1 per state unless the state has 8
               or more Districts
           o 18 states declined and 22 will use creating 27 positions with no additional FTE’s
           o Should be available to assist FLP also
           o Cost was estimated at $150,000 if all states used it, so not sure of actual costs now
      Discussed ways to have National Office participate in our meetings such as videoconference, web cam, etc
           o Trina Brake will talk to Jim Gwyn’s office about what options we have

Ricky Valentine and Kim DePasquale

Ricky Valentine and Bob McGrath, Office of Budget and Finance

      FY 11 Budget
           o We will have a pay freeze
           o Hope to have a Continuing Resolution (CR) til March 4th and looking like a full year CR(which means the
               FY 10 Budget)
           o 50/50 chance we could have a CR minus (FY 10 amount less a %)
           o Agency has bills in FY 11 that we never had before
                     MIDAS – will not get the additional funds we asked for in FY 11 if stay on CR and to keep MIDAS
                       on track will need $30-40 million
                     Civil Rights - $35-40 millions to cover the Administrative costs
                     Total of $80 million costs not had before
           o Agency would get $1.7 billion which is 70% Salary and Expense and 30% IT
           o There is a Budget Committee looking at what we need to survive and every Deputy has a member on
               this team
           o Will present the Budget to the Executive Leadership Committee (ELC) soon
           o The ELC will scrutinize every expense down to the $10,000 level
           o Furloughs are not off the table
           o Office closures are not off the table, but obviously will not help in this FY
           o RiF’s – don’t see this happening soon as it costs money up front
      FY12 Budget
          o FY 12 will be FY 10 and then asked for another $58 million for MIDAS
      Does not see Budgets getting better in the next few years, we need to change how we do business
      WebTA/ARS
          o Do have some data, but at this point not good data
          o When get data, can determine what training is needed

Kim Grahm, MIDAS project

      The big part is not only moving Farm Programs off the System 36, but reengineering how we do business
      Department decided we will go with on the shelf system instead of creating own
      When MIDAS done, everything will be integrated
      Scheduled to be released FY12, but a little behind right now
      Hired 15 field office employees and assigned 3 National office program managers
      Not taking what we do and moving it to a system, are looking at everything we do to see if we need to do it
      MIDAS demo should be ready by end of July for field to look at; will use 13 locations across country
      Meets the Congressional Mandate to speed up the delivery of new programs to 90 days
      NACS asked about the processors now working on the System 36, they will be offered training , but still may not
       stay with Agency

Craig Trimm and DeAnn Allen, Farm Programs

      2008 Farm Bill – only program left is the Asparagus and will be out shortly
      2012 Farm Bill – Agency does not get involved in
      Farm Facility Loans
          o Longer approval authority than 4 months?
                    CCC is paying interest when money is obligated, so could affect interest rate if longer
                    Would need a regulation change
                    This is how it has always been done , but suggest possibly delegating to the DD’s if it is a
          o Delegating approval authority to FLM similar to how STC delegates to DD’s?
                    Regulations say DD only and no thought of changing it

Phil Short pictured with Mark Drewitz and Joe Austin
Phil Short, Deputy Administrator for Management

      Awards money? Budget does have in it at least at the FY 10 level, but if Budget stays tight, may need to move
      Re-employed Annuitants
           o 24 are working now and will continue to use as long as we can
           o It is a difficult process to get them on
      Career Intern Hiring Authority
           o Program will be terminated 3/1/11 because some agencies were accused of using it to get around hiring
               veterans(Border Patrol)
           o Currently have 100 Career Interns nationwide that will need a decision prior to be converted since the
               Career Intern allowed for a 2 year probation period and the FLOT is only 1 year probation ; SED’s and
               AO’s have been made aware of this and are to work with local managers
           o OPM is developing a new program which will be named Pathways as a hiring tool for College Graduates
               and should be available Fall 2011
                    Will only have 1 year probation
                    Will have veterans preference
           o OPM is also requiring completing a hiring process in 80 days
           o Leasing office space – only Real Property Leasing officers can sign leases now

Chris Beyerhelm Deputy Administrator Farm Loan Programs , Jim Radintz, Jeff King, Randi Scheffer, Nancy
New, Michael Compton, Mike Hinton, Bill Cobb and Craig Nehls

NACS tried a new way of meeting with the Farm Loan Staff, met with all the above staff in one meeting

      1165 Senior Loan Officer Position
          o Decision was made to transfer all Grandfathered FLM’s to Senior Farm Loan Officer(SFLO) Position
          o Packets which included Cover letter, Position Description and Q and A’s were sent to the States
          o SED”s were to have a conversation with those affected
          o Through the process, discovered that the lists were not correct and some employees were reclassified
          o States can also advertise for the new position – 4 states have done this so far
          o NACS told NO that some packets went out “after” the effective date
          o NACS also asked why Q and A’s only went to affected people – Chris will get these to NACS to distribute
              as well as the new Position Description
          o Chris explained that this is a new concept – the Program Manager position
                   SFLO is completely responsible for the delivery for Farm Loan programs and does not have the
                       final supervisory decision, but should be the primary contact for supervision
                   Example : Mark is a FLO and Chris is a SFLO, Mark would go to Chris first to ask for time off and
                       Chris recommends, then the supervisor approves
                   Chris feels it can work, just need to work a little harder to make it work
          o What about offices that meet 1165 because of FLOT’s? – States are to designate training offices and HRD
              has determined that even if a FLOT is not stationed there all the time, that position is still supervisory
          o Why can’t Non Supervisory SFLO still supervise?
                   The Secretary’s office has been pushing the Span of Control ratio should be 9 employees to 1
                    supervisor is one reason
                  Need to maintain Supervisory FLM’s, but will dilute that if have SFLO supervise and we would no
                    longer have Supervisory FLM’s
        o Chris stressed that The SFLO is TOTALLY independent when it comes to Program Management
   Farm Loan Analyst
        o 8 states are using this position
        o Estimate that it takes 1/3 to ½ PT to keep up with a Loan Officer
        o NACS did express that this position appears to be under utilized
   Farm Loan Servicing Director position
        o When advertised the first time, did interviews, but did not select anyone
        o Cultural transformation supports that positions like this should not only have knowledge, but “soft skills”
        o Due to the lawsuits, many people interested in who gets this position
        o So a new assessment was used when it was advertised the second time
                  All who were qualified had to complete a narrative on “soft skills” and selections were made
                    who would be interviewed
                  Chris is hoping to have a selection by early February
                  The position was opened up to all sources but still requires Farm Loan knowledge
        o Director of Loan Making position will go through a similar process
   Nancy New will be retiring December 2011
   Direct LOC update
        o In November, OMB issued new guidance that a multiple advance loan would have to have the entire
            amount obligated in the FY approved ( $100,000 LOC for 5 years would have to have $500,000
            obligated), so the LOC is no longer an option
        o Looking at a way to do something similar to LOC, such as the a 2nd annual Operating loan would only
            need cash flow and application
   IT changes
        o All changes cost money, so need to make sure they are important
        o For this FY, many programs will have funds for only maintenance
        o Will be renegotiating Farm Business Plan contract and as that cost goes up, there will be less for other
            FLIPIDS programs
        o Todd Burke is looking at what maintenance could be done in house instead of outside contractors
        o Have funds for FY 11 for DLS/DLM enhancements, so get suggestions to state coordinators and prioritize
            them as “want”, “need” and “nice to have”.
        o NACS asked why it is hard to delete in the “Ag Credit” part of DLS? It is not a trust issue, but a credit
            issue coming out of the lawsuits. Things can be deleted, but must be done one step at a time
   FLOT training
        o Due to Budget looking at the National Orientation and CFAT
                  All agreed that CFAT needs to be done face to face
                  Orientation
                          Could be done by VTC
                          Could be done by States
        o NACS asked about the average length of training nationwide
                  12 months through Phase 1
                  24 months to get loan approval authority
        o Retention has been very high for FLOT’s
        o Discussed that tests do not always keep up with handbook changes
                  All handbooks go through Bill Cobb and Nicki, Nicki will watch and contact Chuck Ropp to make
                    sure that tests are updated
   Goals
        o Farm Service Agency is doing a new Strategic plan, which will include an “operating plan “
        o Each part of the Agency will have goals
         o If have suggestions or ideas on goals, get them to Chris
         o There will be a Task Force established to work on these
   Term Limits
         o Guarantee term limits are now in effect, FSA had sent numerous reports to the Hill about how many
             customers (including SDA’s), but one congressman was in favor of retaining term limits
         o Will now need to do a better job notifying guarantee customers of term limits
   Adverse Decision Training coming
         o DD’s, FLM’s, FLO’s, CED’s, FLS’s will be required to take it
         o NACS suggested that FLP PT’s should take it also
   Loan Approval Levels
         o Guarantee was increased across the board by $100,000, but no increase on Direct
         o States will need to set up a plan to allow some FLM’s to be increased based on the quantity and quality
             of their work, similar to a “Preferred lender”
                   Guarantee could be increased by another $100,000
                   Direct could be increased to $275,000
                   State will have to issue a State supplement which will be reviewed by Chris
         o 30% of Direct loans going to a FLS/DD now
         o One thing all should remember is that if we call an application complete, should not be going back to the
             customer and asking for additional information when it gets to a higher level of approval
   FLP resolutions
         o NACS asked if the response could include who wrote it, so it would be easy to follow up on
         o Nancy also stated that changes to IT that are program issues, should be coming to FLP, not IT
   Borrower Classification
         o NACS discussed our concerns and provided an example which National Office will review
   Work Processes to improve efficiency
         o NACS suggested looking at a streamlined YEA
         o Loan assessments – not much can do the statute requires it
                   Chris would like examples/suggestions of duplication of efforts in the credit presentation and
                      loan assessments
         o Security inspections – OMB has problem with not doing these, but SED’s and FLC’s need to prioritize and
             if any are not done, need to be documenting why not done- workload or funding
   New regulations coming on Loan Servicing
         o 2040
         o Subordinations and partial releases
         o Wind easements
         o When gets to the Federal register, want comments from NACS and all
         o Until these changes are in effect, need to remember to look at using the exception process
   Non essential assets – will look at next time there is a change in loan making regs
   Conservation loans –change is coming that RE loans will be secured by RE and Chattel Loans will be secured by
    chattel only (Example if loan to buy a grain drill, will need only the grain drill for security)
   Some states are having problems with Judicial Foreclosures – If states are contracting for this, it had to be done
    by Department of Justice; If a state has a problem, they should contact Chris
   Civil Rights
         o Investigations- employees need to know they have rights and what the allegation against them is and
             only respond in that context
         o Civil rights investigators did go through a “mini CFAT”
   Will be looking at which employees are bilingual and may then have these employees available to help offices
    that have a need for that
   Working on the Receipt for service that was required in the 2008 Farm Bill
   Funding
         o While under the CR, funds are targeted to Direct Operating except for SDA funds
   Working on a “plain language guide to Farm Loans” because of the Keepseagle suit
NACS Board members, Stu Skidmore, Mark Drewitz and Katie Richburg during the NACS Board Meeting

NACS Updates
   Dues
         o can be paid quarterly or annually, if paid quarterly are due June 1, September 1, December 1 and March
               1 and if paid annually are due June 1 at the beginning of the FY (so annual dues were due June 1, 2010)
           o State treasurers should mail dues to Chris Wood with a list of all your members and notate which
               members dues were waived since they are first time members
           o REMINDER NACS waived dues for all first time members for the period of June 1,l 2010 to May 31, 2011
      JM Marketing
            o All FLP offices should have received a mailing from JM Marketing in the last 2 weeks, if you did not
               receive it, please contact Denise Lickteig, Nebraska
      The NACS website has updated membership materials available
      NACS needs resolutions – if you have something you would like changed, the NACS resolution process is the best
       way. Recently at a Zone Meeting, a National office staff member told us that the easiest way to get something
       changed is to use the NACS resolution process! Resolutions can be submitted on the NACS website!
      While in Washington DC, the NACS Board also met with American Bankers Association representative, Seaver
       Sowers to discuss term limits and other issues that NACS and the ABA have in common
      The Board also met with Andy Quinn and the Legislative committee to discuss the legislative priorities and how
       important it will be to educate the new members of Congress about FSA Farm Loan Programs. Keep watching
       for the Washington reports

National Convention will be held June 19 -23rd, 2011 in Salt Lake City, Utah

      Registration will be posted to the NACS web site soon- see the flyer on the web site too!
      NACS goal is to have each state represented

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