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									          National Association of District Directors                   1
             Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                         December 8-9, 2010

National Association of District Directors (NADD) Executive
Officers and Area Representatives met with top management
officials of the Farm Service Agency on December 8 and 9, 2009
in Washington, D.C.

NADD officials attending: Brent Mendenhall-President, Bon
Herchenbach-Vice President, Ross Ballard-Secretary, Steve Pratt-Past
President, Chuck Land-NW Area, George Turner-NE Area, Robin
Hampton-SE Area, Bobby Murphy-SW Area, Billy Swiney-MW Area.

FSA Officials NADD met with: Carolyn Cooksie-Associate
Administrator, Karis Gutter-DAFO, Chris Beyerhelm-DAFLP, Craig
Trimm-Assistant DAFP, Jackie Whitaker-HR Director, Heidi Ware-Acting
CFO, Bob McGrath-WEB T&A coordinator, Patrick Hanley-Project
Director-MIDAS, Sandy Park-Acting DAM, Jim Gwinn-Director OCIO.

This visit by NADD was introductory in nature and productive in
discussion. We appreciated the opportunity to openly discuss items
and points from the field. We recognize our unique position as a
conduit to and from the field.

If you have any questions regarding items in these notes or have
constructive comments regarding future visits, please email us.

The following are notes taken during the respective meetings:


Carolyn Cooksie, Associate Administrator (for the

The Administrator, Jonathan Coppess, was at a meeting in Nevada.
We were able to meet with Carolyn Cooksie.

>The first topic was centered on the budget, both 2010 and 2011. Ms.
Cooksie said we are in for a tight couple of years. Different budget
           National Association of District Directors                   2
             Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                         December 8-9, 2010

items in past years were pushed forward as long as they could be and
now there are no extra funds to cover shortfalls from past budgets.

The 2010 budget is short of what is needed and the agency heads
were meeting on Dec. 10, 2009 to discuss where cuts could be made
and still keep Farm Service Agency quality where it should be. She did
say that there would be no RIF‟s in 2010. She also said the
Administrator has stated that the national office would take a 20% cut
before any cuts to the field would happen. He realizes the field is
short of the required resources needed to get the current work done
and can‟t absorb further cuts.

>NADD asked about the cash award money for performance ratings.
Ms. Cooksie said it is a necessary item for discussion. The question to
be considered is: should it be used for shortfall items in the budget or
should it be used for performance awards. This will be part of the
meeting on the 10th. Several of the DD‟s present told the Associate
Administrator that people in the field would consider their jobs as
award money if it came down to that.

>An idea to bring the Presidents of the employee associations together
at headquarters for a briefing and discussion from the new
administration was introduced. After much discussion, Ms. Cooksie
considered the idea of a quarterly call with that group. NADD
supported this idea and hopes it can be explored further.

>Ms. Cooksie said they were hoping to get the FY10 allocations out to
the states by Jan. 1.

>On the 2011 budget, she said the agency took about a 5% cut from
the 2010 budget on the “pass-back” and this had been appealed back
to the Department. No decision on that has been returned yet.

Even with these budget problems Ms. Cooksie was still optimistic about
what was happening in FSA. She said she believed we would make it
through just as we always have but we needed to tell everyone,
including Congress, how things really are. FSA has received criticism
from saying we could make a deadline and then not being able to do
it. She emphasized we must be realistic. We can‟t keep pushing
payments out and keep having big problems like we just went
          National Association of District Directors                    3
             Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                         December 8-9, 2010

>NADD then asked about State Committee appointments. She said
they were hoping to have 24 state committees announced by Dec. 11
but there could be some hold ups. The State Committees are an
important part of the FSA process.

>The next item of discussion was the role of the DD and the fact that
many new SED‟s did not have a grasp on the DD role and what we
bring to the Agency. The idea of regional SED and DD conferences
was brought up to Ms. Cooksie as a way of orientating new SED‟s and
providing this information to them. She agreed on the concept and
thought this could work well but that budget would determine if this
could happen. She added that there were only 2 states that did not
have SED‟s in place.

>Performance Management was briefly discussed. Ms. Cooksie said
she would like to see a revamp of the system we currently have. We
will need to stay with the 5 tier system but the performance plans
should be better in describing what a person does and what is
expected of them. She would like to get representatives from all
employee organizations to assist in doing this.

>Ms. Cooksie stated that the Administrator is big on communication
and very open. He wants people to know what is going on. The email
he sent out was brought up as an example of this. This has never
been done before.

She told the group that the Administrator the value of DD's was
recognized by Ms. Cooksie.

>Knowledge Bank was brought up and Ms. Cooksie said they had
made a lot of strides in putting several of those recommendations in
place and it is on going. One of those recommendations was a one
personnel system. She said that the Agency would recommend a
study of this when funds were available to do so.

>The DD Mentoring program was also discussed. Ms. Cooksie is very
much in favor of this program and of the need to place DD‟s in the
program as soon as they are hired.
          National Association of District Directors                   4
             Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                         December 8-9, 2010

Human Resources Division

Jacqueline (Jackie) Whitaker, Director of Human Resources
Division (HRD) and staff members

Ms. Whitaker and several of her staff met with NADD. She is fairly
new to the Farm Service Agency and this is her first meeting with
District Directors. We provided her with an overview of what the DD
position is and what we do. She asked what authorities had been
delegated to the DD‟s. It was explained how DD‟s represent the state
committees and work under the supervision of the SED‟s. The actual
delegations would vary by individuals within each state.

>The two employee systems were brought up and also the problems
encountered with performance appraisals. NADD explained that many
of these same issues will surface with WebTA.

Jackie and her staff asked several questions on these problems
especially about the workings of the COC‟s and the training that was
being provided to the COC‟s on performance and other issues.

The DD‟s answered her questions and gave several examples.

>Concerns with the new reporting system in WebTA scheduled for
January and the problem this is going to create for DD‟s was
discussed. Previously in WebTA, DD‟s were only certifying the
timesheets for CED‟s as stated in the notice that was issued. The
COC‟s were still “paper” approving the CED time, leave and requests
for credit time/overtime. Now with the new process, DD‟s will be
approving time, leave and requests for credit time/overtime. The COC
will be omitted from the approval process. No paper copy will or can
be printed out for anyone to sign since everything will have electronic

NADD pointed out that this must be addressed prior to start up. DD‟s
do not have written authority to approve those personnel items for
CED‟s. After discussion, Ms. Whitaker‟s staff said they would need to
get with DAFO to work this out. NADD again stressed that this needed
to be addressed prior to implementation.
           National Association of District Directors                   5
             Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                         December 8-9, 2010

>Lamont Neel, a member of HRD staff, brought up that HRD would be
working on a Leadership Development Program and that they would
need help on this. It is hoped that some DD‟s would volunteer in this
effort. We commented to Ms. Whitaker that HRD has a program in
effect now specifically for District Directors. The course, Leading From
the Center, is required by FSA/DAFO for all DDs to attend.

This program was explained to Ms. Whitaker and her staff. They
thought it sounded very good.

>The DD Mentoring program was also introduced. With the inception
a year ago, it was agreed through DAFO that DD‟s need to be placed in
this program very soon after they are hired. Then after the mentoring
program was completed the DD would attend the Leading From the
Center course.

>NADD inquired about the Leading From the Center program. It was
our understanding that a course was in the works for 2010. We hope
the trainers for these sessions would be contacted after the first of the
year. There are about 15 new DD‟s needing Mentors and enough DD‟s
for 2 classes of Leading From the Center.

Tom Montgomery and Tanya Coram-Howard were present. We
acknowledged the tremendous contributions they have made in
professional development of District Directors. The products they
instrumented have been highly effective.

>Glide time – the change from a 60 minute glide time to 30 minute
was to make things consistent within the Agency.

>Performance Reviews documented in the COC minutes – it was
discussed that the actual ratings of employees were being put in
Executive minutes. This is PII and the actual rating should not be
listed, just the discussing and documentation. NADD asked that this
be stressed to Administrative Officers and Executive Officers in the

>27-PM par. 454 – PT in charge for a year may be considered for CED
position. Some people have interpreted this as an entitlement and not
a possibility. Key word is “MAY”. Other things must be done before
this can happen. DAFO was also approached about this and agreed to
look into clarifying this.
           National Association of District Directors                6
             Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                         December 8-9, 2010

>2-IC – this handbook needs to be obsolete. The reviews and
information in the handbook are outdated and/or required in other
handbooks. NADD requested FSA obsolete the handbook.

>Electronic signatures – we stated we were grateful for the progress
being made in this area and asked they keep heading in this direction.
There is no need for printing out copies and signing them when things
are signed electronically with e-authentication sign in.

>PII – with an earlier notice being rescinded, we asked they look at
providing more clarification on what could be done with files.
Credit hours – we asked the question, “Can a supervisor give a blanket
approval to an employee to work credit hours as needed and bypass
the requirement for credit hours to be approved in advance?”
Safety and Health/Fitness programs – There is currently no provision
for this in the field and we asked that this be considered and/or


Patrick Hanley, Program Manager

Mr. Hanley outlined current activities as follows:

>Conducted LSS (Lean Six Sigma) site visits in 15 States including
participation from approximately 144 County Offices to document
current processes supporting Farm Programs and capture the field pain

>Formed LSS Process Improvement Projects and Team

      *Signature Authority - eliminate need for PT's to verify
      signature authority

      *770 checklist - streamlined 770 checklist and saved
      * By & For Signatures _ modified for ease of Use
      * Web Timeout - currently in Improve Phase to minimize
        occurrence of web timing out for PT's
       *MAL - currently in Improve Phase to consolidate forms and
        reduce lead time to process
           National Association of District Directors                   7
             Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                         December 8-9, 2010

>MIDAS Major Contract Award
    * Stimulus funding approved Spring 2009
    * Vendor request for proposals was released in June and
      there is an anticipated contract award FY 2010 - 1st or second
    * The real fun is expected to start FY 2010 2nd Quarter

>Future Applications:

     Timeline - Acquisition and planning are to be completed in the 1st
      quarter - Software and System Integrator to be finished by 2nd
      quarter, FY 2010 - Planning phase to be completed sometime in
      1st quarter of FY 2011 - Building of the system has completion
      projected for 2nd quarter of FY2012 - Implementation of the
      concept will start after system building and be finished in the 3rd
      quarter of FY 2013 - Then the final operational concept will be
     Proof of Concept- state and County staff will be able to: view
      customer profiles - apply for different farm programs - fill out
      simple forms online - attach required documents to the
      application - view customer land imagery - check eligibility -
      route and check applications - review application history -
      manage/modify contracts - set business triggers/notifications -
      access enhanced reports - access training material online - and
     Site visits- upon completion of Proof of Concepts, the MIDAS
      Project Team including field employees with the project will visit
      prior LSS sites to show proof of concept. The plan is to be out 30
      days and visit 10 sites to demonstrate the Proof of Concept,
      collect data and develop quantifiable recommendations. This
      data will be reviewed and addressed in the System Design
     Field Office Staff Involvement - Field Office Staff will be asked to
      serve as "ad hoc" members and will be coordinated through their
      SED - STO will support assigned business team leads.
           National Association of District Directors                      8
             Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                         December 8-9, 2010

   >Full time Appointments - Field Staff will be recruited to
   relocate to DC - will work closely with Farm Programs and
   Field Office Staff - HR announcement targeted for January

   SUMMARY - MIDAS is moving forward with great enthusiasm. There
   is great support from management from the top down. Stimulus
   funds helped getting project on track.


Heidi Ware, Acting CFO; Bob McGrath; Vickie Larson

> Ms. Ware is Acting CFO. The final interviews have been held with
four individuals considered for the CFO position. All are from outside
the agency.

>There was a budget meeting held 12/10/9 with the leadership council
(made up of all the deputies, the Assoc Administrator and the
Administrator - 9 people) to make decisions on the discretionary
portion of the FY2010 budget. Budget hoped to get the allotments out
to the states after this meeting.

> It appears there will need to be a lot of communication with the
states regarding the allotments as there are “significant shortfalls” in
the budget. Ms. Ware indicated there would be no RIF‟s or buyouts in
2010. She stated we have to keep moving forward with IT. We have
to make progress on moving off of the Sys 36.

The question is how to move forward without impacting staffing.
Utilization of temporary employees is a natural discussion point. The
2010 budget has a $5 mill shortfall that can‟t support current staffing-
if you keep staffing the same – zero money for supplies
(discretionary). Consequently critical planning and analysis is required.
92% of 2010 budget is non discretionary.

NADD asked about the 2011 budget outlook. Ms. Ware stated we are
currently working on it and indicated it is premature to discuss details
of the 2011 budget.
           National Association of District Directors                    9
              Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                          December 8-9, 2010

>WebTA is scheduled to go live the 2nd pay period in January. Training
webinars are planned and are scheduled for taping next week.
Recording of uncompensated time is not part of the initial release.

SUMMARY: While the discussion of budget was dreary, there was not
a feeling of hopelessness.


Craig Trimm, Candy Thompson, Steve Pederson, Brent Orr,
Sandy Bryant, and other branch chiefs

> NADD suggested the 770‟s remain current for field use. The FP staff
said that was their intent. Even though the 770‟s are no longer
required, the usage is still at the discretion of the SED. There will be a
770 for SURE and ACRE.

>The payment process fro DCP is 98% complete nationwide. $3.8
billion has been signed and certified. Combination software has
recently gone out. Eligibility and direct attribution problems will be
fixed for advance payments. Now that most payments have been
made and problems fixed, there should not be this kind of problems
with future payments.

>Some problems that are now being seen are a result of counties not
cleaning up duplicates and other problems in SCIMS. One ID number
for two different people will not work. District Directors can help by
stressing the message that “We have to follow the rules now or
payments will not go out- can‟t „fool‟ the system any more”. The FP
staff emphasized how important it is to keep records clean.

>Prompt payment is being paid to some that shouldn‟t be receiving it
but there is no way to cancel prompt pay right now. This may take
longer to fix. 90% of DCP and CRP payments were issued in the first
five days. The counties were ready and had their records in good

>The overall response of the National Office was that the counties had
done a good job with what they had to deal with. The NO sent out
three new systems and the counties handled it well. MILC corrections
software will be tested in January in 15 counties.
           National Association of District Directors                 10
             Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                         December 8-9, 2010

>There is a possibility of a 2010 general CRP signup. It will be a
secretarial decision. The draft Environmental Impact Statement is due
out next month with a 45 day comment period before the final
regulations can be issued. June/July would likely be the signup but no
guarantee. A lot of preparation work would need to be done
beforehand such as reviewing soil rental rates, EBI , priority areas,

>OMB hasn‟t signed off on SURE which is delaying signup- probably
after the first of the year now. The draft handbook is on the website.
All other materials such as press releases, fact sheets, etc are ready to

Payments will be available once signup starts. National Office said the
first problem with SURE will be acreage reports. Tenths vs.
Hundredths has not been settled yet but needs to be. Farm records
must match CLU‟s and NAP needs hundredths.

ACRE triggers calculation will be a problem but payments will be okay.
The ACRE program is built that we won‟t know until October on how
ACRE as a program will pay.

>Agency couldn‟t support Land Use Project anymore- no resources to
redo. Web acreage reporting to be in the field in October and next
December CLU is to be centralized.

>National Office have been telling the states through conference calls
to take 926‟s for 2010 and 902‟s if there are any changes for 2010.

>The SCIMS change or input form is ready to go out. (Since our
meeting the form has been released)


Karis Gutter, Deputy Administrator

>President Brent Mendenhall gave a brief outline of NADD and their
commitment to assisting the agency. He touched on who we are and
provided a chart showing the widespread influence DD‟s have just by
the nature of their position.
           National Association of District Directors                  11
              Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                          December 8-9, 2010

>DD Mentoring Program -Status - Update
NADD brought up the positive results gained from the mentoring
program in training new DD's. The future funding picture is not bright
but this is an area that results can be attained without large funding
requirements. Mr. Gutter mentioned the administrator has shown
support of the mentoring program.

>Mr. Gutter feels training is important as well as how we deliver
training. In the future FSA will need to make better use of IT and
tools available to deliver training efficiently.

>Leading From the Center
Item again is important but is part of training that will be in the mix
for funding. NADD provided information on the direct nature of the
content of the course and its direct relation to FSA. It is unlikely any
off the shelf training for DDs would have as large an impact on the
entire field as this course.

>Regional SED-DD meetings.
The concept of regional SED-DD meetings was fleshed out. Mr. Gutter
recognizes the need for such a meeting and the benefits that can be
gained but again decisions will be based on the budget.

>State Committee Appointments
Twenty five States are in the pipeline and seven more are being
wrapped up. Work is continuing and will be completed as soon as

>Electronic Signature Utilization - Procedure and Policy
This issue also brings up authority issues as T&A's and leave will be
approved on the web. As the COC's do not have access and DD's do
how will the approval process work? Mr. Gutter is supportive of the
COC's and looks at their involvement as an opportunity for local
individuals to get involved in government. DD's will have to enter data
into the system as far as how it will be handled after that is to be
          National Association of District Directors                12
             Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                         December 8-9, 2010

determined. The Deputy Administrator recommended that we be sure
and discuss the mechanics of this with the HR people.
>Risk Assessment Report - Handbook 2-IC
NADD brought up the issue of 2-IC and its obsolescence. NADD
strongly recommended the handbook be removed from the list of
current handbooks. The 2-IC handbook has not been updated in years
and no one seems to take responsibility for it. DAFO stated they
would look into the issue and take appropriate action.

>Records in field offices - use of those records
Mr. Gutter stated they will work with HR to come up to a solution that
will protect records and still allow field personnel to perform their
duties. A follow up on the notice that was retracted is desperately

>Linc Pass
The cost of the linc-pass and its need was discussed. It is a function
that is a directive from Homeland Security and as such the Agency will
conform to the use of Linc pass. More detail and guidance is

>Performance Management at end of year- COC and DD
Clarification was requested on handling of the year end performance
reviews. DD's have been completing these reviews in different ways.
Some have completely documented reviews in a separate set of
executive minutes and others have mentioned reviews were completed
in the minutes. Ken Nagel will work with HR on this issue and issue

>PT in Charge and CED position
It was brought up according to paragraph 454 of 27-PM PT's would be
qualified to apply for a CED vacancy after they served for a year as
Acting CED. This caused some problems as the PT's felt they were
entitled to have the CED position and not have it advertized. Mr.
Gutter responded that CED positions must be advertized. The States
may not be able to advertize outside the State because of budget.
          National Association of District Directors                  13
             Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                         December 8-9, 2010

SUMMARY: Mr. Gutter mentioned several times his commitment to
communication. He has an open door policy that applies to all FSA.
He has a wish to know everyone and everything. This includes
organizations such as NADD, NASCOE, NACS, NASE, AOLG and any
others. He is very open to dialog with those groups. He questions
things daily about FSA; why do we do some things, why do they exist?

The fiscal situation is tough it has not been released but has been
discussed. The budget will soon be released to states for
implementation; they will seek guidance from the local level. He
assured us he would fight for Field Operations.

For example: Technology. Were did we go wrong? In an age where a
68 year old peanut farmer runs his tractor with a blackberry our
Agency has fallen behind. We have had years of neglect for the IT
budget. We need bodies but not at the expense of IT. Mr. Gutter
made the analogy of which to fund personnel or IT; "which of your
children do you love the most." There is a strong commitment for
personnel & staffing because we still need the bodies to administer

On a personal side Mr. Gutter is very aware that he is the youngest
Deputy Administrator. His time in the Marines and on Capitol hill has
given him the tools and his new position gives him the opportunity to
use those tools.


Chris Beyerhelm, Deputy Administrator for Farm Loan
Programs and Jim Radintz

>Review of San Antonio Strategic Planning Meeting – Mr. Beyerhelm
believes it went well. The focus was how to deal with becoming more
           National Association of District Directors                   14
              Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                          December 8-9, 2010

efficient in the face of budget restraints. More HR functions are moving
to KCMO with attrition.

The “One Stop” shopping idea continues. The Agency is transparent on
resources available. DD‟s are a part of the leadership team with FLP

Performance issues and the ability to hire held a significant amount of
SED attention. There were recommended changes for Program Policy –
loan limits, population restrictions on the making of youth loans. They
will have to define which issues require administrative or statutory
changes. We have to “Follow the money”; delinquency and losses
affect our funding.

For those who utilize an attorney in the appeals process, attorney‟s
fees are now reimbursable. We will probably see an increase in their
use in this process. We do not have the luxury of taking those in the
gray area to the appeals process to see how it turns out.

>Never send a rejection letter with out calling or visiting first. One of
our major problems was communication. The Secretary of Agriculture
is more involved in the details of FLP. The Secretary wants us to be
more responsive – timely, etc…. Both the Secretary and Civil Rights
Coordinator have seen the progress FSA has made.

>We need to exercise caution in the area of Civil rights. There are
higher percentage rates of denial to underrepresented groups in some
areas. There could be justifiable reasons; we need to be aware of it.

>Have second party reviews on your denial letters; we can not afford
bad mistakes. They are to be clear and to the point. Some letters are
not. We have to look at ourselves or someone else will. Look at your
cases closer, good communication is the key. We continue to battle the
mentality of years of suits.

>The President has requested an additional 1.2 billion for Pigford.
Garcia and Love suits are not class actions. It is undecided on

>Jim Radintz noted SED‟s were more engaged at the San Antonio
meeting than at prior meetings.
           National Association of District Directors                 15
             Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                         December 8-9, 2010

Mr. Beyerhelm noted that he and FLP Chiefs manage programs. The
line of authority to FLP Chief is dotted. The District Directors manage
people and programs.

>The issue of DDOR Proxy was discussed. Some states utilize a
specialist. There is no need to have two people review the same
issues. It was not intended to circumvent the DD. The specialist is to
work with or thru the DD. Mr. Beyerhelm was not aware of the exact
District Director DDORS completion percentage but it is high. Initial
intent of DDORs was to force DD involvement. It is now a compliance
function allows FLP to catch potential trends.

>It was recommended that the DDORS be updated to reflect evolution
of the process. Mr. Beyerhelm stated they would consider input, but
the costs associated with changes to an automated system are very

>Some finance Reports received by District Directors from St. Louis
and Kansas City are not used. Mr. Beyerhelm advised that a field office
can turn off some reports. He said it would be a good idea to “Marry
Up” with Chief‟s Association and review. Brad Smith from Louisiana
was the President of their Association. NADD will need to contact him
and discuss potential actions.

>The Affects of PII – The original notice was confusing and was
rescinded. A memo from CIO will be simplified and they will have to
review it. As far as he is concerned FLP Staff is covered.

>NADD introduced a concern over the release of excess chattel
security - it requires WDC approval which typically is not approved.
This stems from the 1980‟s, loss after loss, write downs. OGC insisted
on this before the exception became the rule. The national office will
continue to review. There are situations we FSA can release the lien
and re-file to allow another lender to improve their position. Local
authorities can release the crop but not the real estate.

>Credit Reports for youth loans is a Treasury requirement.

          National Association of District Directors                 16
             Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                         December 8-9, 2010

Jim Gwinn, Director

>Equipment and warranty issues
There is equipment that is out or going out of warranty. Unfortunately
we do not have the budget to do a large scale replacement. It will be
managed in an orderly fashion.

>The Optimized Computing Environment (OCE) has been designed to
revitalize the IT infrastructure and prevent major IT failures and
associated agency productivity losses. The plan is to revitalize and
innovate the IT infrastructure. It is backed by a solid business plan
requiring a $365.6 million capital investment over a five year period.
Funding to begin the OCE was requested as part of the 2011 budget.
Per the 2011 budget pass back the $83 million to begin the OCE is still

>Expanded availability of laptops in the field?
ITSD is aware of the benefits provided by expanding the availability of
Laptops in the field. However, ITSD does not have funding in the FY10
IT Budget to purchase additional laptop computers.

>Pressure points in the field
DD's are interested in areas where we could be of assistance to avoid
"pressure points". Several items were brought up by Scott Snover, Ft
Collins, that are causing problems such as conducting webinars,
participating in video conferencing copying large file between offices,
updating and installing patches particularly on Monday mornings. By
better scheduling events and more coordination across agency lines
will help these areas.

>ITSD suggestions- One way to cut down on e-mail traffic is to utilize
"share point” where data is stored on one server and users go to
server to get the information. Example would be items such as
monthly calendars staff would update their schedule and anyone
needing to look at it would pull up the information.
          National Association of District Directors                 17
             Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                         December 8-9, 2010

This would save many e-mail messages and reduce traffic. States
wanting to use this tool can have an administrator trained in AG Learn,
then request share point. It was mentioned Texas is one of the states
using share point and it has been successful there.

>Peripheral equipment
There is an IRM notice coming out in the near future regarding
peripheral equipment. It was pointed out that thumb drives need to
be password protected. This adds to the cost of the devices but is

>Linc Pass Plans
Linc passes are not an option by the department. They should be in
use by next September. All Employees should have received a link
pass by last September.

ITSD director Jim Gwinn and his staff are very positive and bring
confidence to the table. After our visit we felt very comfortable that
everything that can be done is being done in IT. There were no issues
brought forth the ITSD staff had not been aware of.

Deputy Administrator Management

Sandy Park for Phil Short

NADD leadership appreciates the opportunity to meet with Sandy in
Mr. Short‟s absence. She stated that she would review each of the
following items with Mr. Short.

>NADD brought up the issue of handbook 2-IC and its obsolescence.
NADD has raised this issue in the past and continues to strongly
recommend that the handbook be removed from the list of current
handbooks. The 2-IC handbook has not been updated in years and no
division or branch seems to take responsibility for it.
           National Association of District Directors                  18
             Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                         December 8-9, 2010

>NADD shared their experience regarding the use of Webinars. It is
NADD‟s recommendation that if Webinar‟s are the selected form of
training, individuals be allowed to view the taped sessions at their
own timeframe and not be required to be logged into the “live”

>NADD shared their varied experiences with the Accessibility Review
Team concept described in Notice AS-2198. It was noted that various
states were implementing the notice differently and apparently no
oversight is being provided from the national level. It was
recommended that a more supervised oversight requirement be taken
at the national level. State offices should be required to notify the
national office if specific Notice requirements are not being followed by
all agencies.

>NADD shared their frustration with the slow process to implement
the new facility leasing plan.

>Electronic Signature Utilization – NADD thanked the national office
for the support that has been given to expanding this effort. It was
reported that in most cases even the strong holdouts were dealing
with the concept that a hard copy is not required. NADD recommends
that forthcoming procedure continue to state that an electronic
signature is sufficient and that written file able documentation is not
required with an electronic signature.

>NADD shared with DAM that some employee‟s would like a better
explanation regarding the agency policy to restrict Glide Time from 60
to 30 minutes.

>PII was discussed. It was noted that DD‟s are a significant tool to
ensure that PII policy and procedures area being implemented
correctly throughout the various county offices. It was noted that an
instructional Notice was issued last year and then rescinded with the
announcement that a future Notice would be issued. NADD is
requesting that the correct instructional Notice be issued as soon as
           National Association of District Directors                   19
              Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                          December 8-9, 2010

>Credit Hour administration was discussed, including the question
“Can a supervisor give a blanket approval to an employee to work
credit hours as needed and bypass the requirement for advance
approval?” It was also asked how this would work in the new T&A

>Concerns regarding linc-pass were expressed. Most significantly
were concerns of use and access issues. There was also the cost of
the linc-pass maintenance and use. NADD is looking for the timeline
when the field will be utilizing these in full force.

NADD ended the session with Ms Park with an expression of
thankfulness and offered their assistance in any way that would be
helpful to the Deputy Administrator.

Five Critical items that we will be following up on are:

1. Mentoring seems stalled. 15 new DD‟s are waiting assignment of

2. “Leading From The Center” appears stalled. This is a course that
   DD‟s should have in the first year of their assignment.

3.   Regional SED/DD meetings would strengthen the field operations.

4.   Employee association quarterly tele-conference is a strong idea.

5.   Remove handbook 2-IC.

Read on for more specific discussion of these critical items along with
other important information we gleaned from our meetings.
        National Association of District Directors        20
            Consultative Meetings @ FSA National Office
                        December 8-9, 2010


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