UNNUMBERED LETTERS ISSUED FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY 2010
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UNNUMBERED LETTERS ISSUED FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY 2010 Dated Subject Distribution 02/1/10 Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program S/D American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 02/02/10 Coordination of Servicing Activity on Community S/D Facilities Direct and Guaranteed Combination Loans 02/04/10 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) S/D & N.O.O. Project Reporting (APR) 02/18/10 Rural Energy for America Program Fiscal Year 2009 S/D Applicant Notifications Unfunded Applications 02/19/10 Advertising RD Employees 02/22/10 Discontinuation of the Combined Notice of S/D Availability of Funding for the Multi-Family and Single-Family Housing Programs 02/22/10 Credit Analysis Tools for Evaluation of Community S/D Facilities Direct and Guaranteed Loan Applications 02/24/10 Fiscal Year 2010 Site Manager of the Year S/D Recognition Program 02/24/10 Section 502 Direct Full Fund Utilization “All the S/D Way to 20 K!! Campaign Kickoff 02/26/10 Non-Refundable Airfares N.O.O. & S/D 02/26/10 Community Facilities Funding for Local and S/D Regional Food Systems Projects and Know Your Farmer Know Your Initiative February 1, 2010 TO: State Directors, Rural Development ATTN: Business Programs Directors SUBJECT: Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 The purpose of this Unnumbered Letter is to advise the Program Directors of the review process for the Business and Industry (B&I) Guaranteed Loan Program loans funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The Agency has entered into an Interagency Agreement with the Farm Credit Administration (FCA) to conduct reviews of all B&I loans funded through ARRA. The Oversight Coordination Staff (OCS) will coordinate the review process. Each B&I ARRA loan will be reviewed using the attached B&I ARRA Loan Review Workpapers. A set of loans will be selected weekly using Guaranteed Loan System Report GLSR006A, Detail of Obligations with Job Information. We anticipate reviewing all closed and/or obligated loans. OCS will advise the Program Directors of loans selected for review via e-mail. The state should complete the attached tracking form and immediately ship the complete case file overnight via Federal Express (FedEx) directly to FCA at the address below. The state should use FedEx account number 4849-5532-8 and check third-party payment to charge the overnight shipping expense to the National Office ARRA administrative account. J. Dawn Johnson, CFSA Farm Credit Administration 3131 S. Vaughn Way, Suite 250 Aurora, CO 80014 Telephone: (877) 322-3362 Ext. 2191 FCA will notify OCS if questions arise during the individual file reviews. OCS, along with program staff, will then convene a three-way conference, as necessary, to resolve those questions. As FCA completes its review of the individual loans, case files will be returned directly to the appropriate State Office. We anticipate that FCA will review and return files within 1 week after receipt. We will provide feedback on the B&I ARRA loan review findings and take appropriate actions based on trends and findings identified to resolve those matters as expeditiously as possible. If you have questions concerning the B&I ARRA review process, please contact Letitia Turner-Nichols of the Oversight Coordination Staff at (202) 720-4878 or firstname.lastname@example.org. (Signed by Judith A. Canales) JUDITH A. CANALES Administrator Business and Cooperative Programs Attachments LOAN FINDINGS SUMMARY Borrower Name Loan Amount $ Application Date (GLS) Approval Date (GLS) Principal Balance (GLS) $ Loan Purpose and Background Loan Underwriting and Analysis Risk Identification Loan Data Accuracy Regulatory Compliance Other Observations Reviewer and Date of Review REGULATORY COMPLIANCE The actions of the State are being evaluated. If the State conducted adequate and appropriate follow-up for missing or inadequate lender documentation, full consideration should be given. Each question is to be scored a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, based on the quality of the work completed by the State. The scores are then weighed to value the various levels of compliance. The risk to the government of non-compliance with the regulations should also be considered when assigning a score. Scoring criteria are as follows: 1 = Best practice with no deficiencies; exceeds expectations; 125 percent credit given. 2 = Good with no material deficiencies; meets expectations; no adjustment made. 3 = Needs improvement with material deficiencies; minimal or no increased risk exposure; 50 percent credit given. 4 = Weak with significant or several material deficiencies; increased risk exposure; 25 percent credit given. 5 = Unsatisfactory with serious material deficiencies that significantly increase risk exposure; no credit given. 6 = Not applicable. These questions are excluded in calculating the overall regulatory compliance score. 1. The borrower and loan purposes were eligible. • B&I - Sections 4279.108; 4279.113 and 4279.114 • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “Notwithstanding the provisions in RD Instruction 4279-B, section 4279.113, and in addition to those in section 4279.114, the following loan purposes and entities are not eligible for ARRA funded B&I loans: (1) Zoos; (2) Aquariums; (3) Convenience stores, unless the store provides quality jobs and sells or will sell E85 fuel upon completion of the project; (4) Pools; (5) Water parks; (6) Hotels/motels and other facilities that have pools or water parks; (7) Golf courses; (8) Museums; and (9) Casinos or other gambling establishments. The Agency has agreed not to use ARRA funds to finance businesses that have any gambling revenue (other than revenue from state-run lotteries). Score: Comments: 2. The guarantee fee was appropriate. • B&I - Section 4279.107 • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “All ARRA loans will be charged a 1 percent initial guarantee fee and no annual renewal fee.” Score: Comments: 3. The appropriate priority points were assigned to the application, including written justification and signature. • B&I – RD Instruction 4279-B, Section 4279.155(b) • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471 and UL November 12, 2009: Unique criteria for awarding discretionary points. Applications required a score of at least 55 points to obtain a 90 percent guarantee. An ARRA Priority Scoresheet was provided. “States are to score applications consistent with criteria specified in RD Instr. 4279-B, section 4279.155, with the following exception: As stated in the NOFA, State Directors and the Administrator will each award 10 discretionary priority points to projects when, and only when, the borrower provides quality jobs (as defined) and meets at least one of the other four demographic criteria (outmigration, high unemployment, under-served groups/under-represented areas, and persistent poverty county).” Score: Comments: 4. The percent of guarantee limits were adhered to. • B&I – RD Instruction 4279-B, Section 4279.119(b) • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471 and UL November 12, 2009: “The maximum percentage of guarantee will be determined in accordance with RD Instr. 4279-B, section 4279.119(b), except that loans must score at least 55 points to qualify for a 90 percent guarantee.” Score: Comments: 5. The Davis-Bacon Act and Buy American provisions were adhered to, as applicable. • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD Instruction 1940-C; RD AN No. 4471 and RD AN No. 4449 • “All loans that include more than $2,000 for construction, alteration and/or repair (including painting and decorating) must comply with Davis-Bacon and related Acts.” • “Buy American provisions in the statute apply only when ARRA funds are used to finance public buildings and public works.” “A policy decision was made that all vehicles purchased with ARRA funds, whether by private businesses or public bodies, must be manufactured in the United States” Score: Comments: 6. The lender completed a credit analysis of the proposal, including ratio analyses, industry comparisons, and clear explanations of any unusual financial entries. 3 years of historical income statements and balance sheets (existing businesses) 2 years projected income statements and balance sheets pro forma balance sheet at startup • B&I - Section 4279.161(b)(8) • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Score: Comments: 7. The business plan and/or independently-prepared feasibility study was completed properly, as appropriate. • B&I - Section 4279.150 and 161(b)(12)(13) • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Score: Comments: 8. The lender adequately assessed the borrower’s management expertise, and did the background of the principles indicate prior successful experience in the field? • B&I - Section 4279.131(f) • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Score: Comments: 9. The borrower met the minimum tangible balance sheet equity or cash equity injection at loan closing - 10% for existing businesses and 20% for new businesses. • B&I - Section 4279.131(d) • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Score: Comments: 10. The lender obtained and adequately analyzed credit reports on the borrowing entity and principals. • B&I - Section 4279.161(b)(4) and (9) • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Score: Comments: 11. The lender obtained adequate appraisals of collateral and evaluated and appropriately discounted all collateral. Real estate appraisals were USPAP and FIRREA compliant, completed by a qualified State-certified appraiser, and reviewed by the State Reviewer Appraiser. • B&I - Sections 4279.144; 4279.173(e)(4); 4279.131(b) • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Score: Comments: 12. The State conducted (and published, when appropriate) the appropriate level of environmental assessment and ensured environmental risks were properly identified and addressed (and appropriate mitigation measures were included in the Conditional Commitment). • B&I - Sections 4279.161(b)(3) and (11)(xiii); 4279.165(b); 4279.59 • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Score: Comments: 13. The lender executed a Loan Agreement with the borrower, including the 13 conditions stipulated in the regulations. • B&I - Section 4279.161(b)(11) • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Score: Comments: 14. The Project Summary (Form 4279-1, Part C) was completed and signed properly. [Agency will evaluate the application and make a determination whether the borrower is eligible, the proposed loan is for an eligible purpose, there is reasonable assurance of repayment ability, there is sufficient collateral and equity, and the proposed loan complies with all applicable statutes and regulations. The summary should comment on the lender’s analysis, not just repeat it. Lender’s internal credit analysis, Application Parts A&B, and Project Summary should all agree.] • B&I - Section 4279.165(a)(3) • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Score: Comments: 15. Loan Approval Process. State Loan Committee was conducted and documented. [If State failed to hold or adequately document loan committee, score a 3.] • B&I - Section 4279.165(c) • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Post review material was submitted to National Office timely. [If State failed to submit material, score a 3. If both loan committee and post review were deficient, score a 4.] • B&I - Section 4279.173(e) • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Loans exceeding the State delegated approval authority require prior National Office concurrence. [If State exceeded its delegated authority, score a 5.] • B&I - RD Instruction 1901-A, Exhibit A • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Score: Comments: 16. The loan was approved within 60 days of application - using approval and application dates from GLS - which should reflect date full application was received. • B&I - Section 4279.166 • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Score: Comments: 17. The Conditional Commitment included all appropriate conditions under which the guarantee would be issued, to meet regulatory requirements and minimize risk. It agreed with Project Summary and lender analysis; collateral and lien position, rates and terms, personal guarantees, etc. • B&I - Section 4279.173(a) • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “Specific language is to be included relative to ineligible loan purposes/entities and the transparency and accountability of funds in accordance with OMB Circular A-102. Also, specific language is to be included as applicable regarding wage requirements (Davis-Bacon Act) for loans that include more than $2,000 for construction, alteration and/or repair (including painting and decorating); Buy American provisions when ARRA funds are used to finance public buildings and public works, including the purchase of vehicles; and loans made to states, local governments, and non-profit organizations which would be recipients covered by OMB Circular A-133.” Personal/corporate guarantees required of all 20% owners. • B&I - Section 4279.149 • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Same collateral for entire loan - guaranteed and unguaranteed portions. • B&I - Section 4279.131(e); 4279.181(k) • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Insurance • B&I - Section 4279.143; at least hazard insurance (lesser of depreciated replacement cost or loan amount) and workers comp per state law; and when appropriate, life when needed for management succession, flood, liability, malpractice, business interruption, etc. • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Annual borrower and guarantor financial statements • B&I - Section 4279.137 • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Guarantee fee language • B&I – Sections 4279.107(b); 4287.107(a) • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “All ARRA loans will be charged a 1 percent initial guarantee fee and no annual renewal fee for the life of the loan.” Score: Comments: 18. The lender met all conditions of conditional commitment and satisfied all requirements precedent to issuance of the Loan Note Guarantee, including equity (determined from a current balance sheet) and providing a comprehensive lender certification and settlement statement that appropriately accounted for all loan proceeds. • B&I - Section 4279.181 • B&I ARRA Guidance – RD AN No. 4471: “For the most part, ARRA funded loans will be processed and serviced the same as regular B&I loans using existing program regulations. Underwriting standards have not been relaxed for ARRA funded loans.” Score: Comments: B&I Guaranteed ARRA Loan Review Tracking Form Submit this completed form to: Dawn Johnson, FCA, at email@example.com, Jenni Aske, FCA, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Letitia Turner-Nichols, OCS, at email@example.com. Also, include a completed copy with your package transmission. State Name State Contact Name and Number State Address Box #1 Loan # of Borrower Name Amount Files 1. Sample Borrower $1,500,000 2 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Fed Ex Tracking Number(s): Date Shipped: Date Received: _______________________ _____________ ________________ February 2, 2010 TO: State Directors, Rural Development ATTN: Community Programs Directors FROM: Tammye Treviño (Signed by Tammye Trevino) Administrator Rural Housing Service SUBJECT: Coordination of Servicing Activity on Community Facilities Direct and Guaranteed Combination Loans Community Programs has combined financing on excellent projects throughout the country utilizing the Community Facilities (CF) guaranteed and direct loan programs. Our CF borrowers and lenders will be facing challenges during our country’s current economic climate. Community Programs field staff shall be prepared to work with our guaranteed lenders efficiently and effectively in servicing combination loans. Community Programs places the services provided by CF projects to the community of paramount importance. While we continue to hold to this philosophy, we must be sensitive to the fact, that on combination loans, our lenders may not have the ability to enter into long term workout arrangements in problem loan situations. Our guaranteed lender is subject to strict lending regulations and operational requirements that may not allow that flexibility. The policy established by the National Office on direct loans, pursuant to RD Instruction 1951.225, is to allow the borrower 120 days to voluntarily liquidate the loan by sale or transfer, prior to the Agency foreclosing on the property. The lender, however, may not be able to offer 120 days prior to foreclosing due to their operational requirements. Therefore, in problem loan situations on combination loans, the lender and the Agency shall concur with the manner in which the direct and guaranteed loan is serviced and in any workout arrangements. EXPIRATION DATE: FILING INSTRUCTION: January 31, 2011 Community/Business Programs It is crucial on combination loans that the borrower’s problem loan situation is addressed early by the Agency, the borrower and the lender. Current real and personal property appraisals shall be obtained promptly and timeframes for notifying the borrower, and to insure compliance with State foreclosure requirements. A well thought out approach between the borrower, CF staff and the lender will result in effective workout agreements and liquidation plans. Should you have any questions please contact Kendra Doedderlein at (202)720-1503. February 4, 2010 TO: State Directors National Office Officials Rural Development ATTENTION: Community Facilities, Water & Environmental, Business & Industry, Rural Business Enterprise Grant, and Broadband Initiative Program Directors FROM: Cheryl Cook (Signed by Cheryl L. Cook) Deputy Under Secretary SUBJECT: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Project Reporting (APR) Thank you for completing the RD 4-Phase Tracking information a few weeks back. We’ve entered the data into a central location called “ARRA Project Reporting” (APR) that can be found at https://apr.sc.egov.usda.gov. This site provides the capability for the Field Offices to enter supplemental information for ARRA Projects. All is needed is an EAuth account, Level 2, to access the APR. There is great interest by the Recovery Implementation Office to track the progress of all ARRA-funded projects government-wide. Since the APR is a living report, and to provide the Recovery Implementation Office with the most up-to-date information, please insure the content of the APR relative to your state is updated on a regular monthly basis. The Broadband Initiative Program will be added to the APR at a later date and the content for this program will subsequently be completed and updated by the National Office. The APR is updated daily from the same file used for ARRA obligation reporting. A user accesses the APR for a particular program from the drop-down menu (Community Facilities (CF), Business & Industry (B&I), etc.). The user updates data within the APR application then submits these updates. This data is immediately stored in the database. Users will not need to add a new record, just update the additional information requested in the APR. To view a report from the APR, click on the reports option on the left side of the screen. You will be provided a dropdown to refresh data as well as program level reports. If you view a report and make additional updates in the APR, you must refresh the data to view your changes. EXPIRATION DATE: FILING INSTRUCTIONS February 28, 2011 Housing Programs, Community/Business Programs, and Administrative/Other Programs Page 2 An example of the specific type of information requested in the APR follows: 1. Name of Recipient: Select from drop down 2. Announcement Date: Select date from drop down 3. Project Synopsis: Input brief description of project (This is a free form field with a character limit of 1,000.) 4. Bucket List: Select a category from drop down 5. Bid Approval Date: Select date from drop down 6. AS OF Date: Select date from drop down (Please remember to update the AS OF Date every time you modify the screen.) Other information such as congressional district, amount obligated, date obligated, and disbursed amount to date (if applicable) is linked to the recipient file and will automatically be prefilled in the APR. Project updates for the CF program include an option for tracking construction phases for brick-and-mortar-type projects and an option for those projects that involve only or primarily equipment purchases, for example, fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, etc. Please complete only one of the two options. Please review and update your program data by March 10, 2010, and continue thereafter on a regular basis. As always, thank you for your continued support to this effort. You may contact Jacki Ponti, Assistant Administrator Water Programs and RD ARRA Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org or Cheryl Gamboney, Special Assistant, Legislative & Public Affairs, email@example.com, should you have any questions regarding the APR. Sent by Electronic Mail on February 4, 2010 at 3:45 p.m. by LAPAS February 18, 2010 TO: Rural Development, State Directors ATTENTION: Business Programs Directors SUBJECT: Rural Energy for America Program Fiscal Year 2009 Applicant Notifications Unfunded Applications The purpose of this unnumbered letter is to provide guidance concerning the continued processing of unfunded Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 applications involving the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program. The FY 2010 Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Notice will be published later this fiscal year and will provide the procedure for the continued processing of FY 2009 unfunded applications in FY 2010. This unnumbered letter applies to the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grant and Loan portion of the Rural Energy for America Program, but does not apply to energy audit and renewable energy development assistance or feasibility study grants. Due to the high demand for the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program in FY 2009, the Agency has numerous eligible applications that remain unfunded. Eligible, but unfunded, applicants for the program must be notified that their application was not selected for funding in FY 2009. The FY 2010 Notice will include provisions for FY 2009 applicants to be reconsidered in FY 2010. The attached letter will be used as a guide notifying FY 2009 applicants of their application scores, guidance for 2010, and appeal rights. Please note that the Rural Energy for America Program will utilize an open application process. If you have any questions or need further clarification, please contact the Energy Division, at (202) 720-1400. (Signed by Judith A. Canales) JUDITH A. CANALES Administrator Business and Cooperative Programs Attachment EXPIRATION DATE: FILING INSTRUCTIONS: December 31, 2010 Community/Business Programs ADVERSE DECISION LETTER XXX XXX XXX XXX Re: Dear XXX Thank you for your Renewable Energy System or Energy Efficiency Improvement application under the Rural Energy for America Program. We were unable to fund your request during the 2009 Fiscal Year (FY) due to the high demand for program assistance. We received requests for assistance in excess of the funds available. Based upon our review of your application and a priority score of variable points, of which variable points were assigned for technical merit, we have determined that your project could not be considered for funding in 2009. Scoring of all eligible and complete proposals was based on the evaluation criteria published in RD Instruction 4280.112(e), and published in the Federal Register on May 26, 2009. A National Office unnumbered letter published May 29, 2009, established funding priority for the type of applications for FY 2009. The application period is now open for FY 2010. The FY 2010 Notice for the Renewable Energy System or Energy Efficiency Improvement grant and loan program will provide FY 2009 eligible but unfunded applicants the opportunity to be reconsidered in FY 2010. Applicants and borrowers generally have a right to appeal adverse decisions issued by the Agency. However, decisions of general applicability (program funding) are not appealable, but are reviewable. Adverse Decisions involving priority scores are appealable. If you would like to discuss the eligibility requirements, or other aspects of the application in greater detail, please contact _________ (XXX) XXX-XXXX. Thank you for your interest in this program, and we hope there will be opportunities in the future for you to participate in Rural Development programs. Sincerely, XXX Program Director ATTACHMENT TO LETTER NOTIFYING CUSTOMERS OF AN ADVERSE DECISION THAT IS APPEALABLE ________________________________________________________________________ The decision described in the attached letter did not grant you the assistance you requested or will terminate or reduce the assistance you are currently receiving. If you believe this decision or the facts used in this case are in error, you may pursue any or all of the following three options. Option 1 - Informal Review If you have questions concerning this decision or the facts used making it and desire further explanation, you may write this office to request an informal review. There is no cost for an informal review. This written request must be received no later than 15 calendar days from the date of the attached letter. You must present any new information, evidence, and possible alternatives along with your request. You may also have a representative or legal counsel participate in the process, at your cost. The informal review may be conducted by telephone or in person, at the discretion of the Agency. Please include a daytime phone number in your request to arrange for the review. You may skip this step in the informal process and select one of the following two options. If you do, you will automatically waive your right to an informal review. Option 2 - Mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) You have the right to request mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for the issues that are available for mediation. You will have to pay for at least 50 percent of the cost of mediation or ADR. Rural Development will pay for the other 50 percent of the cost, provided the Agency has sufficient resources from its appropriated funds. If the Agency does not have sufficient resources, you will be advised how much, if any, the Agency can contribute to the cost of mediation or ADR. If you need the information to assist you in deciding whether to seek mediation or ADR, you may contact the Rural Development State Director listed below. If you elect to seek mediation or ADR, your written request for this service must be sent to the Rural Development State Director listed below and must be postmarked no later than 30 days from the date of the attached letter. The Rural Development State Director will advise you of the estimated cost of mediation or ADR, the extent to which the Agency can contribute to the cost, and the process and procedures for this service. In States with a USDA- sponsored mediation program, you will generally be referred to such service. In States without a USDA-sponsored mediation program, you will be provided with the name or names of mediators. You will be advised directly by the mediation or ADR source if they can mediate your case. Once you request mediation or ADR, it stops the running of the 30-day period in which you may request an appeal (described in Option 3). If mediation or ADR does not result in resolution of these issues, you have the right to continue with a request for an appeal hearing as set forth in Option 3. When mediation or ADR is concluded, you will be notified of the result and the number of days remaining to request an appeal, if applicable. If you request mediation or ADR prior to filing for an appeal, the number of days you will have to request an appeal will be 30 days from the adverse decision minus the number of days you took to request mediation. Mediation or ADR does not take the place of, or limit your rights to, an appeal to the National Appeals Division (NAD); however, an NAD appeal hearing would take place after mediation or ADR. You may skip mediation or ADR and request an appeal hearing. However, in doing so, you will automatically waive your rights to an informal meeting, mediation, or ADR. Rural Development State Director address: State Director, Attn: XXX USDA Rural Development XXX XXX Option 3 - Request an Appeal You may request an appeal hearing by the National Appeals Division (NAD) rather than an informal review, mediation, or ADR. There is no cost for an appeal. Your request for an appeal must be made no later than 30 days from the date you receive the attached letter. You must write the Assistant Director, NAD, for your region at the following address: National Appeals Division Regional Office XXX XXX Your request for an NAD hearing must state the reasons why you believe the decision is wrong, be personally signed by you, and must include a copy of the attached letter. A copy of your request must also be sent to the Rural Development State Director at: State Director XXX XXX You have the right to an appeal hearing within 45 days of the receipt of your request. You or your representative or counsel may contact this office anytime during regular office hours in the 10 days following the receipt of your request for a hearing to examine or copy relevant non-confidential material in your file. Photocopies will be provided to you. Your representative or counsel should have your written authorization to represent you and review your file. The NAD Hearing Officer will contact you regarding a time and place for the hearing. You may also request a teleconference hearing in lieu of the face-to-face hearing. At any time before the scheduled hearing you may also request that the Hearing Officer make a decision without a hearing. If you do, the Hearing Officer's decision will be based on the Rural Development file, any written statements or evidence you may provide and any additional information the Hearing Officer thinks necessary. The Federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits creditors from discriminating against credit applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age (provided the applicant has the capacity to enter into a binding contract); because all or part of the applicant’s income derives from any public assistance program; or because the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The federal agency that administers compliance with this law concerning this creditor is the Federal Trade Commission. If a person believes he or she was denied assistance in violation of this law, they should contact the Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580. XXX RS/Unnumbered/9007 plus legal February 19, 2010 TO: Rural Development Employees FROM: Cheryl L. Cook /s/ Cheryl L. Cook Deputy Under Secretary SUBJECT: Advertising In FY 2010, Rural Development’s appropriation included language that authorizes Rural Development to use Salary and Expense funds for “…advertising and promotional activities that support the Rural Development mission area.” This authority applies to regular year funding as well as American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding appropriated in February 2009. While the authority is broad and offers Rural Development the opportunity to be creative, it is important that we implement the authority in a prudent manner that ensures we are reaching the desired targeted audiences in an efficient and cost-effective manner. To do otherwise could jeopardize our ability to retain this authority through future appropriation bills. To ensure that we maintain necessary oversight of these expenditures, effective today, Instruction 2015.54(b) 5ii (c) will be amended to read: “Prior approval of the State Director is required for any paid advertisement. (Except for advertising as identified in § 2024.253(a) and (c).)” Additionally, Sections (a) and (b) of the same subsection will be deemed obsolete. A Procedure Notice will follow that amends RD Instruction 2015-B, “Public Information Functions of Rural Development Employees,” to reflect these changes. Any questions regarding this memorandum can be directed to Tim McNeilly, Director of Legislative and Public Affairs at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 202-720-1019. EXPIRATION DATE: FILING INSTRUCTIONS: February 28, 2011 Administrative/Other Programs Sent by electronic mail on 2/19/2010 at 5:00 p.m. by LAPAS . February 22, 2010 TO: State Directors, Rural Development ATTN: Multi-Family and Single-Family Housing Program Directors FROM: Tammye Treviño, Administrator (Signed by Tammye Trevino) Housing and Community Facilities Programs SUBJECT: Discontinuation of the Combined Notice of Availability of Funding for the Multi-Family and Single-Family Housing Programs. The Housing and Community Facilities Programs (HCFP) will discontinue the annual publication in the Federal Register of the combined Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) for some of its existing and continuing Multi-Family and Single-Family Housing programs for which it receives annual appropriations. For Fiscal Year 2010 and thereafter, HCFP will provide funding availability information to the public through its Web site, http://www.rurdev.usda.gov. It should be noted that NOFA’s may be published for new or demonstration programs as needed. A Notice will be published in the Federal Register to inform the public about the discontinuance. The Notice will also cite National, State and local program area representative contact information to address questions concerning the application process. If you have any questions, please contact Martha Burton at (202) 720-9651; email@example.com. EXPIRATION DATE: FILING INSTRUCTIONS: February 28, 2011 Housing Programs February 22, 2010 TO: State Directors Rural Development FROM: Tammye Treviño (Signed by Tammye Trevino) Administrator Housing and Community Facilities Programs SUBJECT: Credit Analysis Tool for Evaluation of Community Facilities Direct and Guaranteed Loan Applications This Unnumbered Letter discusses the utilization of a credit analysis tool as a new resource for evaluating Community Facilities direct and guaranteed loan applications. The application process for a non-profit, public body or Indian tribe, to obtain direct loan financing through Rural Development, is initiated directly through the applicant working closely with Rural Development staff. It is a time and resource intensive process for both our staff and the applicant. The planning stages for a large project can extend up to two years. The responsibility to assemble, analyze, evaluate and ultimately approve a loan application for a Community Facilities direct loan is addressed in-depth in RD Instruction 1942-A. The Community Facilities Guaranteed Loan Program is a lender-driven program that provides financial assistance on eligible community-type projects, through a USDA loan guarantee against a percentage of loss to the commercial lender. It is through the lender that Rural Development receives an application for a loan. The lender provides an analysis of the applicant’s eligibility and financial condition to support the application for the loan guarantee. RD Instruction 3575-A, § 3575.53, however, places ultimate responsibility for evaluation of the loan application and the issuance of a conditional commitment for a USDA loan guarantee, with the Agency. EXPIRATION DATE: FILING INSTRUCTIONS: January 30, 2011 Community/Business The Community Facilities Direct and Guaranteed Loan Programs are very popular and they are being used to finance larger and more sophisticated community-type projects. The National Office has received numerous requests for guidance and tools to aid in the analysis and evaluation of community facilities project applications to be used by Rural Development staff. The National Office, in response, has developed a tool to assist the staff with the analysis of the loan application through the credit analysis tool. This format was developed to evaluate each component of an application review in a logical sequence, taking into consideration its ease of use by our staff and the various end-users of the report. The Community Facilities Program Director will find that the credit analysis tool will supplement the Project Summary, by providing a more in-depth look at the application with the necessary information, analysis and evaluation, being concisely provided in one document. This credit analysis tool will be especially beneficial in guiding new Loan Specialists in application review and may also serve to streamline the evaluation process for the seasoned Loan Specialists. The National Office encourages the use of the credit analysis tool on all Community Facilities direct and guaranteed loan applications, and is requiring the completion of the credit analysis tool, or a similar in-depth analysis, on all direct and guaranteed loan applications submitted for National Office concurrence. Additionally, Rural Development staff should familiarize themselves with a recently published Unnumbered Letter entitled “Best Practices for Evaluating Community Facilities Projects” dated August 19, 2009. It focuses on specific evaluation criteria early in the lending relationship with the applicant. The best practices discussed in the Unnumbered Letter will prove to be an excellent tool, which should be routinely reviewed prior to an initial meeting with an applicant. The credit analysis tool can be found under the CF Financial Analysis section of the Community Facilities’ Sharepoint site entitled “Fillable Financial Analysis”, along with additional tools to assist in a review. Should you have any questions concerning the use of the credit analysis tool format, please contact Benjamin Terry at (202) 720-0974. February 24, 2010 TO: State Directors Rural Development ATTN: Multi-Family Housing Program Directors FROM: Tammye Treviño (Signed by Tammye Trevino) Administrator Rural Housing and Community Facilities Programs SUBJECT: Fiscal Year 2010 Site Manager of the Year Recognition Program We are pleased to announce guidelines for our annual Multi-Family Housing Site Manager of the Year program for fiscal year (FY) 2010. Awards may be presented in each of the following three categories: (1) Site Manager of the Year for Housing for the Elderly; (2) Site Manager of the Year for Housing for Families; and (3) Site Manager of the Year for Farm Labor Housing. We will choose a national winner in each of the categories this spring. The awards will be presented during the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing’s 2010 Annual Meeting and Legislative Conference at Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, Arlington, Virginia on June 13-15, 2010. You should use the following selection criteria for making your choice in each category: • Tenant satisfaction with the manager is high. • Property has good curb appeal on a continuous basis. • Manager has no incidents of noncompliance and no unresolved findings. • Manager consistently does more than what is expected. These criteria may be added to, but do not eliminate any. We ask that you use these primary criteria so that the program can be consistent Nationwide. Please see the attached checklist (Attachment 2) to make sure that all items necessary for adequate judging of the entry are included. Please attach the completed checklist to your nomination package. As in past years, if you want a certificate of recognition for your State winners signed by a National Office official, please submit Attachment 5. Do not include the certificate request in your nomination package, as it may be overlooked. This form should be sent by facsimile to (202) 720-0302. EXPIRATION DATE: FILING INSTRUCTIONS: February 28, 2011 Housing Programs 2 In those cases where you are requesting a signed certificate only, and are not entering your site manager in the national competition, please reconsider. It is well worth the time and effort of preparing a nomination package if your site manager is selected as the best in the country and is eligible to attend the awards ceremony in the Nation’s capital. If you are submitting the name of someone to be considered for National Site Manager, please submit a complete package. This should include all the information you used in determining the selection at the State level, and should contain all of the items provided in Attachment 2, along with the completed checklist. Good photographs and letters of commendation from public officials and tenants are always beneficial. The selection panel at the National Office level has only the material you submit upon which to base their determination of the winners. Use any materials at your disposal to showcase your nominee at his or her best in each category. If your candidate has done an outstanding job in an area not listed in this unnumbered letter, please do not hesitate to add that information to your nomination package. Please be sure to address the criterion regarding compliance with Rural Development regulations. We request that you submit your package in a three-ring binder so that no information is misplaced or overlooked. Please clearly mark your State and the category (family, elderly, or labor housing) on the nomination package. Your packages should be sent by Federal Express or similar carrier in order to be received in good condition and in a timely fashion. Address packages to: USDA Rural Housing Service, Multi-Family Housing Portfolio Management Division, Room 1263, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250. The deadline for receipt of nomination packages for National Site Manager of the Year is May 14, 2010. It is our hope that you will continue to make this valuable program a success. If you have any questions, please call the Multi-Family Housing Portfolio Management Division at (202) 720-1603. Attachments 1. Site Manager of the Year Recognition Program Guidelines 2. Best Section 515 or 514 Site Manager Nomination Form/Checklist with evaluation criteria 3. Sample Cover Letter Announcing Awards Program to People Who Might be Interested in Making Nominations 4. Example of Letter to Senator 5. 2010 Site Manager of the Year Award Winners National Office Certificate Request Form Attachment 1 Page 1 SITE MANAGER OF THE YEAR RECOGNITION PROGRAM GUIDELINES Following are guidelines and suggestions for implementing or continuing a Manager of the Year program in your State. 1. Determine who is eligible to receive the award. The idea behind this recognition program is to reward site managers who have close interaction with tenants and who deal with properties hands-on and on a daily basis. In some States, these managers live on the property they manage, while in others they live off-site and manage more than one property. Each State should decide whether it makes sense to limit the nominations to resident managers or to extend it to traveling site managers. Remember, however, that the recognition should be for an individual site manager and not owners or management companies. 2. Solicit nominations from tenants and Section 515 and 514 owners and management companies, as well as others you consider knowledgeable. The nomination process should be open so that you get the maximum number of nominations. Rural Development employees with a good knowledge of the nominee may make nominations, so long as the employee is not on the judging panel. 3. Publicize the program so as to maximize the number of nominations you get. Consider using local media resources and your local borrower associations and housing groups as well. 4. Make your selection based on the following criteria (you may add more, but at a minimum use the ones below): a. Tenant satisfaction with the manager is high. b. Property has good curb appeal on a continuous basis. c. Manager has no incidents of noncompliance and no unresolved findings. d. Manager consistently does more than what is expected. Please use these primary criteria so that the manager recognition program can be consistent nationwide. Attachment 2 provides the national criteria and the necessary documentation that needs to be provided. It is important that all items are addressed so that the package will be considered complete. Please attach this completed checklist to your nomination package. 5. Use a panel of representatives from different stakeholder groups to make your selections. Use panels consisting of Rural Development Multi-Family Housing (MFH) staff and management industry representatives, as well as others you think would be appropriate. Possible panelists include tenants, staff from Housing and Urban Development, a State Housing Finance Agency, a Public Housing Authority, or local civic leaders. The idea is to give an award that is recognized by a wide variety of industry and civic professionals. Attachment 1 Page 2 6. If you have a large portfolio, you might consider using a two-phased process to make your selection. District or Area Offices could convene a panel to choose the best manager in their region and then forward the nomination package to the State Office, which could convene a panel to make the final selection. 7. Choose the best manager and submit your nomination to the National Office by May 14, 2010. 8. Notify the National Office of the name (or names) of the Site Managers of the Year in your State if you wish to have a certificate signed by the Administrator for your State winner(s). Send this information, as well as the name and address of the facility or facilities the manager oversees, to Multi-Family Housing Portfolio Management Division at fax number (202) 720-0302. If you are nominating your winner for the National Site Manager competition, please send (by Federal Express or similar carrier) the complete package upon which you based your determination. Please do not include your request for a certificate in your nomination package. Send it by facsimile only. Requests included in a package may be overlooked, as the nomination packages are not reviewed until immediately before judging takes place. 9. Consider presenting this award jointly with other management groups or at a State management conference. That way, you can highlight the achievements of the manager to a broad group of his or her peers. You may also consider presenting the award at a housing complex the manager oversees. 10. Take advantage of this opportunity for favorable press coverage. The manager recognition program is a chance to highlight one of the most positive aspects of our MFH program. Not only will press coverage help remind communities of how our programs help them, it will also focus their attention on one of their truly outstanding members whom they may not know. Encourage press coverage by inviting the press to your awards ceremony and by distributing press releases. 11. Let your Congressional delegation know about the winners in their districts. This gives members of Congress a chance to send a letter of recognition to the managers. It also highlights the success of our MFH program in serving communities. Attached is a sample letter you may use to send to your congressional delegation for the Site Manager of the Year program. Attachment 2 BEST SECTION 515 OR 514 SITE MANAGER NOMINATION FORM/CHECKLIST Please address the following criteria in the space provided. Remember, keep your answers short and to the point; however, the more letters, pictures, and documentation you can provide, the better. The nomination package should include the nomination letter summarizing nominee’s qualifications and address all the following items and include attachments. This completed checklist should be attached to your nomination package. Failure to address each item will cause the package to be considered as incomplete. ___ I. Tenant Satisfaction. Overall, are tenants happy with the efforts this manager makes on their behalf and on the behalf of the housing complex? How do you know? Include photographs. Attach the following: • ___ Letters commenting on the site manager’s accomplishments from Congressmen or other officials or tenants. ___ II. Curb Appeal. Is the property attractively maintained and landscaped? If applicable, you may wish to discuss particular actions the manager has taken to increase the appeal of the property. Attach the following: • ___ Pictures of grounds, buildings and signage indicating curb appeal. ___ III. Compliance with Rural Development’s regulations. Attach the following documents: • ___ Letter or written statement from servicing office verifying there are no incidents of noncompliance and no unresolved findings. • ___ Copy of last supervisory visit. • ___ Copy of last compliance review. • ___ Copy of most recent physical inspection report. Attachment 2 Page 2 ___ IV. Actions above and beyond what is expected. Please describe any actions this manager takes on a consistent basis which make him or her truly exceptional and outstanding. Good pictures also help in this category. Document activities such as: • ___ Pictures of tenants engaging in activities sponsored by site manager. • ___ Copies of publications (such as newsletters) initiated and maintained for the residents by the site manager. • ___ Newspaper articles depicting site manager’s care of tenants and property. • ___ Articles or letters showing site manager involvement in the community. • ___ Manager helps residents obtain additional services. Attachment 3 SAMPLE COVER LETTER ANNOUNCING AWARDS PROGRAM TO PEOPLE WHO MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN MAKING NOMINATIONS NOMINATOR'S NAME NOMINATOR'S ADDRESS Dear [NOMINATOR]: I know you will agree with me that USDA Rural Development’s Section 515 and Section 514 rental housing site managers guarantee the success of these complexes. They make sure that day-to-day operations go smoothly, and often they invest a great deal of their own free time in providing tenants with a safe and cohesive community. Although these managers would do their jobs regardless of whether they received recognition, I believe we as management industry professionals should do whatever we can to let them know we appreciate their efforts. They deserve recognition for their outstanding work, and for this reason, we are sponsoring a program to recognize the best Rural Development site manager in [STATE NAME]. I hope that you might be able to join me in this important program by nominating someone you consider to be an outstanding site manager. Please use the attached form to nominate the manager. You will note that the form asks you to comment on three factors: • The level of tenant satisfaction with the manager. • The curb appeal of the manager's property. • Compliance with Rural Development’s regulations • The manager consistently doing more than what the job requires. Make your presentation as complete as possible. Letters from tenants, members of the community, housing groups, and others highlighting the good qualities of your nominee are encouraged. Also include any local media coverage which has occurred. Please enclose as many pictures as you like of the manager's property that depict its curb appeal. Pictures of tenant activities sponsored, encouraged, or provided by the manager are beneficial. Submit the nomination package to [ADDRESS] no later than [YOUR DEADLINE]. After we receive the nominations, we will use the following process to choose the best site manager in [STATE NAME]. [DESCRIBE YOUR EVALUATION AND SELECTION PROCESS HERE.] We will present a plaque of recognition to the winner at a ceremony in [DATE, LOCATION, SPECIFY IF CEREMONY WILL BE HELD JOINTLY WITH SOMEONE ELSE OR AT AN ALREADY SCHEDULED CONFERENCE]. We also hope to engage the press in recognizing the exceptional efforts of the winning manager as well as all of our other great managers. I hope that you will make the necessary effort to complete the enclosed nomination form. I can assure you that it will be worth your time. Sincerely, [STATE DIRECTOR] Attachment 4 EXAMPLE OF LETTER TO SENATOR [PLEASE CONSIDER A SIMILAR LETTER TO YOUR CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION] Honorable Name of Senator United States Senate 110 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510-0103 Dear Senator XXXX: I am writing to inform you that xxxxxx has been chosen as the (State Office) 2010 Site Manager of the Year for the USDA Rural Development Multi-Family Housing program. Xxxxxxxxxxx operates the xxxxxxx Apartments in xxxxxxxx. Rural Development administers a national loan portfolio of over 16,000 rural rental housing complexes. In partnership with our private sector and nonprofit borrowers, we house very low- and low-income rural families, elderly people, and farmworkers. The site managers of the housing complexes we finance are employees of private companies, not the U.S. Government. The site managers guarantee the success of our housing complexes. They make sure that day-to-day operations go smoothly, and they often invest a great deal of their own free time in providing tenants with a safe and cohesive community. Although these managers would do their jobs whether or not they received recognition, we believe that as lenders and program managers we should reward excellent performance. In this spirit, we conducted a Manager of the Year competition in each State this year. State Rural Development staffs convened panels of public and private housing management experts to choose their best site managers. They used the following criteria: 1) tenant satisfaction; 2) property curbside appeal; 3) compliance with Rural Development’s regulations; and 4) consistent performance of actions above and beyond the call of duty. States could add to these criteria, but they could not change or drop any of them. The comments we received from tenants and our State Offices are testimony to the outstanding performance of the site managers. Following are a few typical examples: Insert actual excerpts from your nomination packages. The following are examples. • He makes us very proud of where we live. • They are always there to help with anything you need, no matter how big or small. • He shows genuine concern and really puts his heart into the job. • They look after my parents when I'm not there. I don't know what I would do without them. • He listens to the tenants. • She enforces the rules fairly and makes us all feel safe. • My friends [from outside the complex] always comment on how beautiful and well maintained our grounds and buildings are. • One of the greatest things about living here is the great security I feel. Once I became ill in the middle of the night. I pulled the chain on my alarm system and the managers were in my apartment immediately. Attachment 4 Page 2 • Living here is like living at a big home full of loving friends and family. Once I was too sick to go to the barbecue [which the manager had organized], so the manager brought me a plate of food and sat down to tell me who was there and what the grandkids were doing. She really made me feel included in the fun. Ms. xxxxxxxx is a credit to herself, the apartments she manages, her employer, her community, USDA, and the Federal Government as a whole. If you would like to recognize Ms. Xxxxxxx, you may contact her at xxxxxxxxxxx. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact (Name of State) State Director (Name of State Director) at (State Office phone number). Sincerely, State Director Rural Development Attachment 5 Page 1 2010 SITE MANAGER OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS NATIONAL OFFICE CERTIFICATE REQUEST FORM Please use this form to let the National Office know who the winners were in your State, for whom you would like a certificate prepared signed by the Administrator. Please complete a separate Attachment for each award winner. ************************************************************************ TO: MFHPMD PHONE #: 202-720-1603 FAX #: 202-720-0302 STATE CONTACT: ___________________________________________________ STATE NAME: ___________________________________________________ PHONE #: ___________________________________________________ FAX #: ___________________________________________________ 1. Name of Award Winner_________________________________________________ 2. Name(s) of Property/Properties He/She/They Manage(s)________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 3. Exact Name of the Category for Which He/She/They Were Chosen Winner (as it should appear on the certificate--for example, 2010 Pennsylvania Multi-Family Housing Site Manager of the Year for Elderly Housing) _____________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 4. Address to which the Certificate Should Be Sent (This should be someone at the State Office, so that the State Director can sign the certificate. Please include State Director’s name.) ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 5. Date by Which You Need the Certificate ____________________________________ February 24, 2010 TO: State Directors Rural Development ATTN: Program Directors Single Family Housing FROM: Tammye Treviño (Signed by Tammye Trevino) Administrator Housing and Community Facilities SUBJECT: Section 502 Direct Full Fund Utilization “All the Way to 20 K!!” Campaign Kickoff On November 27, 2009, states were provided 100% of their American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) formula allocations and the first & second quarter Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 allocation. As we approach the fiscal year mid-point, we are initiating the “All the Way to 20 K!!” campaign that is designed to promote all states to fully obligate their allocated ARRA and Annual funds during this fiscal year. Our combined annual and ARRA funding this year gives us about $2.4 billion for the Section 502 Direct programs. With these funds, we can assist nearly 20,000 families to become successful homeowners, the highest level reached since 1994. The “All the Way to 20 K!!” campaign’s primary goal is to obligate 100% of our available ARRA and annual funding this fiscal year. With everyone’s help, we’re confident that we can reach this goal! Please be reminded that Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl Cook recognized the extraordinary effort and time required to accomplish the mission of delivering ARRA funding and declared an Agency-wide exigency of public business effective September 14, 2009, and expiring September 30, 2010. This will allow supervisors of program areas affected to cancel scheduled annual leave, which is subject to forfeiture. In addition, the Under Secretary and the Agency Administrator have emphasized full use of allocated funding. Both ARRA and Annual funding have been allocated to states and it would not reflect well on anyone if we fail to use either one. EXPIRATION DATE: FILING INSTRUCTIONS September 30, 2010 Housing Programs. It is critical that each state elevate the priority level on fully utilizing their Section 502 Direct Loan funds as quickly as possible during this fiscal year. We will be closely monitoring the obligated funds for each state and on a quarterly basis, we plan to identify and issue certificates of recognition to states that are performing at or above their fund utilization goals. Areas of consideration will be; Obligation Activity, Data Integrity, 1st Year Delinquency, Unliquidated Obligations and Close Rate (30 day performance measure). The Agency is committed to using both ARRA and Annual funds by the end of the fiscal year. We are approximately 40% of the way into FY 2010 and we have obligated just under 25% of the total funds. Our obligation rates typically increase substantially as we move into spring. We intend to work closely with states over the coming weeks and months. We will regularly communicate with Housing Program Directors to discuss the circumstances involving the Direct loan production. States should begin putting together an action plan to help prepare them on how to fully utilize funding for 2010. The National Office is currently working on its plan and will be posting it on SharePoint once it has been finalized. We appreciate the efforts within each of your states to fully utilize the remaining ARRA funding. Very Low-Income Loans It is critical that we remain focused on providing at least 40% of the appropriated funds for Very Low-income loans. Both ARRA and Annual obligation rates are currently below the 40% mark (32% of ARRA and 34% of Annual funds have been obligated to Very Low-income borrowers). The Agency remains committed to meeting its mandate to serve Very Low-income customers. We are optimistic that we will achieve our goal. At current obligation rates, we may reach a point where Low funding is exhausted, yet a significant amount of Very Low funds remains. Full funding use is critical; however, the quality of the data for both ARRA and Annual loans is just as important! This will be discussed under separate cover. February 26, 2010 SUBJECT: Non-Refundable Airfares TO: National Office Officials State Directors ATTN: Administrative Program Directors FROM: for Sherie Hinton Henry /s/ Van B. Jorstad Administrator Operations and Management The purpose of this memorandum is to provide a reminder to all employees that the purchase of non-refundable airfares for official Government travel is allowed. The use of non-refundable airfares may be cost effective measure for Rural Development employees with firm travel plans, or if an employee is experiencing difficulty in obtaining availability of contract airfare at a nearby airport. Non-refundable airfares can significantly reduce travel costs, but they include a risk if the ticket is not used. If an employee purchases a non-refundable airfare and changes his or her travel plans, the airfare will not transfer, refund, or provide a credit on the unused ticket. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that non-refundable airfares are utilized. Employees are required to sign the attached acknowledgement and scan it into the GovTrip travel system as part of their travel authorization. The acknowledgement must be completed before purchasing of a non-refundable airfare. The document will be maintained as part of the official travel record. EXPIRATION DATE: FILING INSTRUCTIONS: March 31, 2011 Administrative/Other Programs If a non-refundable airfare is not used, the employee is responsible for immediately notifying their supervisor and providing a clearly written explanation why. The explanation must be submitted through the supervisor to the National Office Travel Unit (TU) within five business days of the expiration date for the airfare. Please send explanations for unused non-refundable airfares to the TU’s mailbox at firstname.lastname@example.org. The subject line of the e-mail should be “Non-Refundable Airfare.” If you have any questions, you may contact Joseph Shunk, Chief, General Services Branch at (202) 692-0032. Attachment Sent by electronic mail on 3/04/10 at 12:00 p.m. by the Support Services Division. National Office Officials and State Directors should distribute to other personnel as appropriate. Attachment Non-refundable Airfare Acknowledgement Airline fees for reservation changes or cancellations made for personal reasons will be strictly borne by the traveler, i.e., earlier departure, personal leave, etc. Fees for changes made by the agency will be reimbursed, i.e., mission cancellation or deviation in travel plans due to changes in schedules, etc. Checking one or more of the following reasons will meet the exceptions outlined in the General Services Administration, “Federal Travel Regulation,” Section 301-10.107. Check all that may apply: □ Seating aboard a contract flight is not available in time to accomplish the purpose of the travel. □ A contract flight is not scheduled in time to accomplish the purpose of the travel. □ Use of a contract airfare is not available and would result in additional overnight lodging costs being incurred and increase the total cost for the trip. □ The contractor’s flight schedule is inconsistent with explicit policies of the agency with regard to scheduling travel during normal working hours. □ A non-contract carrier offers a lower airfare, the use of which will result in a lower total trip cost to the Government. □ Smoking is permitted on the contract flight and the non-smoking section of the aircraft for the contract flight is not acceptable. □ Travel is occurring as part of a group of 10 or more travelers that are together on the same day, on the same flight, for the same mission, requiring group integrity and identified as a group. □ A non-contract airfare is offered at a lower cost which is available to the general public, the use of which will result in lower total trip cost to the Government. I understand that I will be personally responsible for payment of any penalties or fees associated with cancellation or changes due to personal reasons. Printed Name: ________________________________ Signature: ___________________________________ Date: _______________________________________ This signed document must be scanned into the GovTrip travel system as an attachment to the Travel Authorization when a non-refundable airfare is selected. February 26, 2010 TO: State Directors Rural Development ATTN: Community Program Directors FROM: Tammye Treviño (Signed by Tammye Trevino) Administrator Housing and Community Facilities Programs SUBJECT: Community Facilities Funding for Local and Regional Food Systems Projects and Know Your Farmer Know Your Food Initiative PURPOSE/INTENDED OUTCOME: This unnumbered letter is being issued to provide guidance to field staff regarding the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food initiative and how Community Facilities (CF) funding can support local and regional food system projects. BACKGROUND: The Know Your Farmer Know Your Food initiative was launched in September 2009 by the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture to help develop and support local and regional food systems to support local farmers, strengthen rural communities, promote healthy eating, and protect natural resources. A food system includes all processes involved in feeding a population: growing and harvesting; processing and packaging; transporting; marketing; distributing; consuming; and disposing of food and food-related items. This initiative supports access to high quality and affordable locally grown foods. Local food has not been statutorily defined for CF; however the 2008 Farm Bill defined local food for Business and Industry Loan Program as food that is sold in-state or less than 400 miles from where it is produced. EXPIRATION DATE: FILING INSTRUCTIONS: March 31, 2011 Community/Business Programs Information on Rural Development programs is already on the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food website. An outreach video is being prepared by the National Office that will include examples of Know Your Farmer Know Your Food – related projects that have received funding from a variety of Rural Development program areas, including CF. The video will encourage applicants to contact the Area Office for more information on our programs and assistance with the application process. IMPLEMENTATION RESPONSIBILITIES: The Rural Housing Service Strategic Plan contains a goal that each state must fund at least one project that supports the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food initiative in Fiscal Year 2010. Projects and applicants related to this initiative must meet the same eligibility criteria as any other CF project and applicant. The outreach video will emphasize that an applicant should contact their Area Office early in the application process, and that they will receive support and guidance from the staff in completing their application. It is the Program Director’s responsibility to ensure that all staff members are familiar with the initiative and the type of funding that is available. For example, a farmer’s market containing a predominant number of vendors selling items other than fruits and vegetables may be eligible for funding under the Rural Business & Cooperative Programs rather than the CF program. States must provide a copy of their Legislative and Public Affairs Staff (LAPAS) Project Information sheet on these projects to Beth Jones for tracking purposes. The purpose should address the locally-grown component(s) and state that the project supports the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food initiative. Applicants will have access to all CF funding sources, guaranteed and direct loans, and grants, based on applicant and project eligibility. The following examples are ways CF funding could be used to support local and regional food systems. These examples are not all inclusive. Food Banks • Purchase building • Renovations • Construct new building • Purchase equipment • Purchase vehicles for food delivery School Cafeterias • Equipment • Renovations • Central Processing/Distribution Centers Farmer’s Markets We can finance farmer’s markets that primarily sell fruits and vegetables. We cannot finance flea markets. Farmer’s markets that sell 25% or more in items that are not food products cannot be financed with CF funding, but may be eligible for funding under Rural Development’s Rural Business & Cooperative Programs. • New construction • Purchase building • Renovations • Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) machines - a system that allows use of government benefits; i.e., food stamps. In 2008 the Food Stamp Program was renamed “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” and is referred to as “SNAP.” Some machines also allow the purchaser to use debit/credit cards. There are state and federal programs that provide funding assistance for EBT-only machines that redeem SNAP activity in excess of $100 per month. CF funding may be used for EBT/Debit/Credit machines and/or EBT-only machines that redeem SNAP activity of less than $100 per month. Community Gardens • Purchase real estate • Water source access – the necessary infrastructure to connect to the water source and/or provide irrigation. • Noncommercial greenhouses • Ineligible – small tools Community Kitchens Community kitchens can provide classes for families to learn how to prepare healthy meals. They can also be used to prepare meals for various community programs using fresh, locally grown products. • Renovations - applicant must own, or be purchasing, facility • Equipment - must be removable if the applicant does not own the facility and equipment must be primarily used for the community initiative • New Construction The outreach video will be distributed to field staff when it is completed, and it can be used to promote this initiative at various outreach meetings and presentations to demonstrate how Rural Development programs can be used to support local and regional food systems. Other ways you can promote this initiative are: • Update/Load into “Rural Development Contacts” addresses for: Farmers Markets Food Production Co-ops Food-related nonprofit organizations Food Banks/Distribution Groups (local and regional) – include faith-based and neighborhood partnerships State Departments of Agriculture, Education, etc., (agencies that deal with food or food preparation) Child and Adult Day Care Programs Schools County Extension Service Town and/or County welfare offices • Issue Press Release If you have any questions about this initiative, please contact Beth Jones at (202) 720-1498.