NASCOE Legislative Committee Update

August 24, 2021
By Clint Bain and Neil Burnette
NASCOE Legislative Co-Chairs

Annually, the NASCOE legislative team engages with Congress regarding what resources FSA needs to fulfill its mission.  Even with COVID-19 restrictions this year was no different.  The NASCOE legislative consultant has been working with members of Congress to advance NASCOE’s priorities by maintaining key relationships on both sides of the isle in both the House and the Senate. 

Recently, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations approved their draft fiscal year 2022 appropriations bill and report.  The House companion has now been approved by the full House of Representatives.  Both the Senate and the House version will be combined to arrive at a version which will serve as a vehicle for FSA’s 2022 salaries and expense funding.

The chart below provides details about FSA salaries and expenses spending levels.

Previously EnactedHouseSenateEnacted Level
FY 2021 $1,437,038,000FY 2022 $1,469,784,000   +$32,746,000FY 2022 $1,472,438,000   +$35,400,000FY 2022 To be determined

In addition, NASCOE secured language related to our legislative priorities. The below items can be found within the draft Committee bills.

  • Prohibiting FSA County Office closures
  • Funding for County Committee meetings
  • Prohibiting permanent relocation of staff without Congressional notification
  • The Committee remains concerned about staffing shortages at FSA offices and continues to direct the Secretary to submit a report to Congress with an administrative breakdown of allotment levels by State, current full-time equivalents, current on-board permanent employees by State, and funded ceiling levels by State.

While it is nice to see appropriations that are considerably higher than the previous year, we are not yet at the end of the road.  The Legislative Team along with NASCOE’s Legislative Consultant will continue to monitor progress of the Senate Bill as it makes its way to the Senate floor for a vote.  If passed, the bills will then go to an appointed conference committee before again coming to a vote in both chambers. A more detailed report regarding the House committee report language and Senate Disaster language can be found on the NASCOE Website.

Download Additional FY2022 Appropriations Language (PDF)

NASCOE Statement on Safety Protocols Implemented by USDA

As most of you are aware, the requirements for attesting to the Federal Employees vaccination status was released this week.  We all knew this determination would be coming at some point soon.  In a prior bulletin, NASCOE committed that it would work to stay abreast of the situation, research the legal side of the issue, and communicate member concerns to management.

The decision to require working conditions be dependent on vaccine status was made at the highest level of the federal government and it affects over 2 million employees.  Notably, no unions or any movement in Congress has provided any avenue to overturn what the President has decided.

NASCOE is an employee association, not a union, representing approximately 7000 county office employees and as such, NASCOE has the ability to bargain and share concerns with FSA.  NASCOE also employs an attorney and a political consultant for the benefit of members.  Recently, NASCOE has used these resources, to address membership concerns about vaccines and testing:

  • NASCOE has collected concerns and questions from members related to COVID-19 protocols being implemented.  
  • NASCOE has delivered membership concerns to FSA management on a daily basis.
  • NASCOE has discussed and reviewed individual member suggestions with management. 
  • NASCOE has consulted the NASCOE attorney on the topics of mask mandates, vaccines in the workplace and testing.  NASCOE cross references with our attorney what we learn from USDA, CDC, EEOC, DOJ and the news media for accuracy.  The attorney is asked to look for areas where legal authorities are abused by the agency.  
  • NASCOE has collaborated with our full time NASCOE political consultant about legislative opportunities that may exist which involve mask mandates, vaccines, and workplace testing.  Currently, our consultant sees no readily available solution from Congress on the topic at hand. 
  • NASCOE has conveyed to management the concern regarding the potential loss of employees due to COVID-19 protocols.  The concern is great enough that NASCOE has asked management if a plan for re-hiring is in place to address continuity issues due to expedited departures.

The bottom line is that the government, like private sector employers, is able to implement safety measures they deem appropriate.  While there are a lot of opinions on what our employer should be doing, the guidance we have received is that our employer has the legal authority to implement these measures and that there are no civil rights violations in the workplace related to COVID-19 safety measures.  It should be noted that local businesses such as hospitals and restaurants and even large companies, such as Fox News and Walmart, are also requiring employees to disclose vaccination status. 

NASCOE understands that membership from all over the nation have different views and there is not a consensus on this issue.  Some members are in favor of vaccines, some are not in favor of vaccines and some members have concerns about medical privacy.  None of these opinions are wrong, and as such, NASCOE has the responsibility to represent all membership and while NASCOE does not have the ability to change COVID-19 protocol, we can make sure that the voice of membership is heard.

We know the situation is very fluid and keeps changing.  Employees won’t be required to take a vaccine, but many questions remain about COVID-19 testing.  NASCOE intends to continue working with our attorney and political consultant to review additional COVID-19 policy as it is issued.  We will work with management at FSA to determine where FSA has discretion in rulemaking and continue to push for control at the local level as much as possible.  NASCOE will do its best to convey to FSA management that guidance needs to be consistent and clearly delivered so that employees can make the choices they feel are best. 

In closing, NASCOE is committed to continuing to voice concerns, frustrations, and suggestions to management.  As NASCOE has said from the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, NASCOE believes safety decisions are best handled at the local level where local conditions prevail.   

The continued support you show NASCOE through good times and bad times is remarkable.  We also value your continued feedback.  Please work with your NASCOE state affiliate to pass along your suggestions to NASCOE leadership.  We will continue to keep everyone abreast of information as it becomes available. 

For the entire NASCOE Executive Committee and Committee Chairpersons, I’m Brandon Wilson, NASCOE President.  Thank you and good night.

2020-2021 NASCOE Annual Report Released

NASCOE’s By-Laws dictate the Secretary shall keep an accurate record of all transactions of the Association, including minutes of all meetings of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. The By-Laws also state that the Secretary shall give an annual report to the Association.  NASCOE’s Executive Policies state the Secretary’s Report should contain information pertinent to the NASCOE year, including but not limited to: a list of Officers, Executive Committee, National Chairs, and Board of Directors; material and financial assets of the association; Negotiation Items; budget information; and Executive Committee minutes. Additionally any changes to NASCOE’s Constitution and By-Laws, the NASCOE Travel Policy, the Executive Committee Policies, or other major revisions of policies or procedure should be included. The Executive Policies also state that the Report is to be posted on the NASCOE website.  The 2020-2021 Annual Report has been compiled according to policy and formatted similarly to recent years.

2021 NASCOE Annual Report
9.2 MB PDF, opens in a new window

Final NASCOE Convention Reminders

Greetings NASCOE Convention Members and Guests,

We’re now just a few days from the 2021 NASCOE National Convention in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  We know that many of you will be departing soon so we wanted to share some updated convention information and reminders to folks before they get on the road.

  • NEW:  Additional COVID-19 safety measures may be implemented by USDA in the upcoming days.  As such, FSA has determined at this late hour that they will not be participating in the convention, either in person or virtual.
  • Management will likely require individuals to quarantine upon return from personal travel.  This may depend on your individual vaccination status.  You should communicate with your supervisor or State Office to determine if there is a need for quarantine or telework upon returning from the convention.
  • NEW:  Regular temperature screenings will be implemented for members participating in NASCOE sponsored events.
  • NEW:  An emphasis will be placed on socializing responsibly outside of NASCOE events.
  • The NASCOE Executive Committee has determined that NASCOE will follow the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for the 2021 National Convention.  We will not be distinguishing between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals during official functions, therefore NASCOE will be requiring all attendees, volunteers, and vendors to adhere to the CDC protocols for unvaccinated individual for large events found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/large-gatherings.html.
  • NASCOE has put into place precautionary measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 among attendees, however all attendees and their guests will need to acknowledge the risks associated with attending the National Convention by completing a release of liability form at registration.  The release can be reviewed ahead of time by visiting the NASCOE website at https://nascoe.org/convention-information/2021-nascoe-convention/.  While we hope it doesn’t come to it, any attendee, NASCOE member or otherwise, who does not follow the requirements will be asked to leave the convention.
  • To the greatest extent possible, you should practice social distancing while at the convention.  The CDC recommends staying 6 feet away from people who don’t live in your household.  Remember, some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus.  Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.  

  • Monitor your health daily.  Watch for fever, cough, and shortness of breath, as well as other symptoms https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.  Do not travel to the convention if you have these symptoms or have recently tested positive for COVID-19, are waiting on COVID-19 results, or have had close contact with a person who has tested positive for or who has symptoms of COVID-19
  • Sharing of items is discouraged.  Consider bringing your own pens, paper, and any other items needed for the meetings.  Bringing a personal water bottle for individual use is also highly encouraged.

While these measures may seem extraneous, there is nothing more important to NASCOE than the safety of our members.  This has been true throughout the pandemic as we’ve worked and communicated both internally and with National Office leadership. 

With the appropriate precautions, we know that everyone will be able to have a great time while appreciating that they and their fellow members are as safe as possible.

Thank you for your support and cooperation,

NASCOE Officers 

COVID-19 Vaccines and Federal Employees

Recent media releases on mandatory vaccines for Federal employees has increased the discussion related to COVID-19 protocol.  An announcement about new COVID-19 policy affecting all government employees is expected to be released very soon. 

Over the past year, NASCOE has been engaged on the topic of COVID-19 as it relates to employee safety, limited office staffing, telework, office visitors, mask mandates and vaccines.  A recent inquiry with headquarters has revealed that at this time the national office has not yet received official information on the topic of mandatory vaccinations.   They are catching up on the topic though news releases much as we are in the field.  This underscores the fact that directives on this topic are coming from the highest level of government.  The President will be the single source of decision making on this topic.

It is our understanding the White House is considering a rule that will require all Federal employees to be vaccinated.  The President may mandate this new rule for all Federal employees or he may delegate authority for individual departments and agencies to make the decision.  Reports also suggest another option which would include an alternative to a mandatory employee vaccination.    NASCOE hopes to receive an update from the national office as soon as they have information to share.  We will be expressing to management the concerns that employees in the field have on this topic.  Also, we will continue to consult our attorney in Washington DC so that we have a complete understanding of legal authorities and civil rights as they relate to this topic.  

Additional information about mandatory vaccines can be found by consulting resources provided by the Department of Justice, the Equal Employment Commission, and the Centers for Disease Control.  These institutions/agencies are being looked to for guidance on the topic by many organizations.  Links to information provided by these groups can be found below:  

Mandatory vaccinations and other COVID-19 protocols are all issues that impact our members.  NASCOE leadership is working hard to stay on top of all issues related to COVID-19 and will continue to voice member concerns about safety and restrictions to the Department as we move forward.   

How We’re Planning to Stay Safe at the Convention

We’re now just about two weeks from the 2021 NASCOE National Convention in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and it’s time to get excited!!  It’s been too long since many of us were able to see each other in person and this year’s convention is shaping up to be a fantastic event.

We hope that you’ve been hearing a lot of exciting details about the National Convention and there will certainly be more information to follow.  Unfortunately, we know that the COVID-19 pandemic is still significantly impacting our lives, both in and out of work.  This bulletin/email is intended to focus on COVID-19 safety protocols and to remind attendees of some best practices as they prepare for the upcoming trip.  It’s going to be important that everyone does their part to behave in a safe and responsible manner leading up to, during, and after the convention. 

  • The NASCOE Executive Committee has determined that NASCOE will follow the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for the 2021 National Convention.  We will not be distinguishing between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals during official functions, therefore NASCOE will be requiring all attendees, volunteers, and vendors to adhere to the CDC protocols for unvaccinated individual for large events found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/large-gatherings.html.
  • NASCOE has put into place precautionary measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 among attendees, however all attendees and their guests will need to acknowledge the risks associated with attending the National Convention by completing a release of liability form at registration.  The release can be reviewed ahead of time by visiting the NASCOE website at https://nascoe.org/convention-information/2021-nascoe-convention/.  While we hope it doesn’t come to it, any attendee, NASCOE member or otherwise, who does not follow the requirements will be asked to leave the convention.
  • To the greatest extent possible, you should practice social distancing while at the convention.  The CDC recommends staying 6 feet away from people who don’t live in your household.  Remember, some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus.  Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.  
  • Monitor your health daily.  Watch for fever, cough, and shortness of breath, as well as other symptoms https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.  Do not travel to the convention if you have these symptoms or have recently tested positive for COVID-19, are waiting on COVID-19 results, or have had close contact with a person who has tested positive for or who has symptoms of COVID-19
  • Sharing of items is discouraged.  Consider bringing your own pens, paper, and any other items needed for the meetings.  Bringing a personal water bottle for individual use is also highly encouraged.
  • Management may require individuals to quarantine upon return from personal travel.  This may depend on your individual vaccination status.  You should communicate with your supervisor or State Office to determine if there is a need for quarantine or telework upon returning from the convention.

While these measures may seem extraneous, there is nothing more important to NASCOE than the safety of our members.  This has been true throughout the pandemic as we’ve worked and communicated both internally and with National Office leadership. 

With the appropriate precautions, we know that everyone will be able to have a great time while appreciating that they and their fellow members are as safe as possible.

Thank you for your support and cooperation,

NASCOE Officers 

Urgent Convention Deadline!

NASCOE’s 62nd National Convention is rapidly approaching.  The Convention is being held in Fort Wayne, Indiana on August 4-7th.  Registration is available online or by mail. 

The deadline to make hotel reservations and receive the convention rate is this Friday, July 9th.  Currently Saturday night is sold out.  If you would like a reservation for Saturday night please send an email to the convention committee at  to be put on a wait list. 

Please visit www.visitfortwayne.com/nascoe2021 for all the information available for the National Convention.  We are looking forward to seeing everyone in person!

Introducing NASCOE’s Technology Coordinator

Photograph of NASCOE Technology Coordinator, Sarah Francowic
Sarah Francowic of Pennsylvania has been appointed NASCOE’s Technology Coordinator.

Recently NASCOE put out a call to our members for candidates to fill a newly created Technology Coordinator position.  This position was created by the Executive Committee to manage our existing digital infrastructure as well as well as assist in adopting various new digital solutions. 

We are excited to announce that Sarah Francowic has been appointed as our new Technology Coordinator.  Sarah is currently a Program Technician in Greensburg, PA. Prior to working with FSA, she graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a dual Bachelor’s in Journalism, Multimedia and Digital Culture.  She also received a Master of Science from Northeastern University in Global Studies and International Relations.  She held an internship with the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. where her duties included assisting with their intranet and updating the website to make it more user friendly. She also spent time functioning as a Public Affairs Specialist drafting and editing original content for their Twitter account and LinkedIn page.

For the last two years she has performed contract work as a Social Media Coordinator for a growing clinical research company, increasing their brand awareness.  “I have always loved learning new things, taking on new adventures, and perfecting my skills – I enjoy taking on new projects and helping others so we can all learn and grow! I look forward to learning more about NASCOE and beginning my role with the association to assist in any capacity I can.” You will all start hearing more from Sarah as she begins her work as the Technology Coordinator.  She will also be working with the Executive Committee, National Chairs, and members in general to identify pain points and make recommendations for potential IT solutions.  Feel free to send any suggestions or welcome her to the NASCOE team by emailing her at