Update on Proposals Regarding Federal Employee Retirement Benefits

The purpose of this memorandum is to review proposals and the current status of federal retirement programs. Our legislative team is working to monitor the proposals and urging Congress to protect the current system. The below includes proposals released by both the President and the House of Representatives. The Senate Budget Committee has not yet released their proposal.

President’s Budget:
On May 23rd, 2017, President Trump announced the Administration’s proposed FY 2018 budget request. In this request are proposals to make significant changes to the Federal Employees Retirement System and the Civil Service Retirement System. Included in the changes are:

  • Cost-of-living allowances for current and future FERS retirees eliminated.
  • COLAS for CSRS retirees would be reduced by 0.5 percent each year.
  • FERS employees would see employee contributions to their annuities increased by one percent each year for the next six years, without any corresponding benefit increase.
  • The FERS annuity supplement would be eliminated for new retirees starting in 2018.
  • Federal pensions would be based on the average of the highest five years of salary instead of the highest three.

Following the President’s FY 2018 request, the CBO argued that these changes would better align federal practices with those in the private sector through:

  • Basing pensions on five-year average earnings.
  • Many employers not offering health insurance benefits for retirees.
  • Many companies shifting from lifetime annuities to defend contribution plans that require smaller contributions from employers.

However, the CBO also noted that these changes would lessen the attractiveness of the overall compensation package provided by the federal government, potentially affecting the ability to attract and retain a highly-qualified workforce. Additionally, under the President’s proposed changes, positions requiring professional and advanced degrees may become harder to fill, private-sector counterparts already provide a higher compensation to comparable federal government positions.

Under the current budget circumstances and within the current political situation, it will be difficult for the President’s proposed changes to become reality. The President’s budget request is the first step in a long process to actually forming the budget.

House Budget:
On July 19th, 2017, the House Budget Committee approved their FY 2018 Budget 22-14. At this time, the House of Representatives has not yet scheduled floor or full House consideration of their Committee proposal.  However, Speaker Ryan has publicly stated that the House will consider the budget in September.

The House FY 2018 budget instructions dictate that the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to submit changes in laws within its jurisdiction sufficient to reduce the deficit by $32 billion for the period of fiscal years 2018 through 2027. The House FY 2018 budget includes measures affecting changes to federal government retirement practices, including ending the supplement only for future retirees, how much to raise the required contribution, over how long a period, and whether it would apply to all employees, to reach this required $32 billion savings over the next 10 years.

The Budget committee report includes the language, “Reform Civil Service Pensions. The policy describes in the Income Support, Nutrition, and Related Programs section of this report would increase the share of Federal retirement benefits funded by the employee. This policy has the effect of reducing the personnel costs for the employing agency. The budget assumes savings from a reduction in agency appropriations associated with the reduction in payments that agencies make into the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund for Federal employee retirement.”

Additionally, the Report includes the following policy statement on the same, “Reform Civil Service Pensions. This budget adopts a policy proposed by former President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility. The policy calls for Federal employees, including members of Congress and staff, to make greater contributions toward their own defined benefit retirement plans. It would also end the ‘‘special retirement supplement,’’ which pays Federal employees the equivalent of their Social Security benefit at an earlier age. This would achieve significant savings while recognizing the need for new Federal employees to transition to a defined contribution retirement system. The vast majority of private sector employees participate in defined contribution retirement plans. These plans put the ownership, flexibility, and portfolio risk on the employee as opposed to the employer. Similarly, Federal employees would have more control over their own retirement security under this option. President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget calls for a phased-in increase to contributions federal employees pay into the Federal Employee Retirement System so that both employees and the government are contributing an equal amount.”

And finally, the Report encourages limiting Federal Health Coverage Funding for federal employees. It states, “currently, Federal contributions to the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program grow by the average weighted rate of change in these programs. This budget supports restricting the growth in these plans to inflation. It also proposes restricting Federal employees’ retirement benefits based on length of service, which would bring Federal benefits in line with the private sector model.”

Stopgap Funding Bill Passed

The U.S. Congress earlier today passed stopgap legislation to avert a government shutdown at midnight and give lawmakers another week to reach a deal on federal spending through the end of the fiscal year.

The Senate passed the measure by voice vote without opposition after the House earlier approved it by a tally of 382-30. The measure now goes to President Donald Trump to sign into law.

The bill provides federal funding until May 5, allowing lawmakers to work on legislation over the next few days to keep the government funded for the rest of the fiscal year.

Updates from the NASCOE President

I just got home from an amazing trip for NASCOE that started in Dayton, Ohio, with the MWA Rally. Acting FSA Administrator Chris Beyerhelm thanked everyone for their service to the American Rancher and Farmer. He reminded us that we made $22 billion in payments that truly strengthens the economy in rural America. He emphasized that we need to tell our story to the American people and Congress. We need to tell them what the 22 billion dollars that we disperse does. Mr. Beyerhelm also said that he was hopeful that budget cuts would not be as bad as originally thought and to remember it’s a process and that Congress will ultimately determine our funding. We are important to rural America; especially to agriculture. He also encouraged us to recognize our peers with nominations for Administrator and other awards. You could hear the passion that our Administrator has for recognizing our employees for their excellent work; this is an opportunity to show case our best employees and is something management is encouraging us to do. As the NASCOE President, I was impressed that he knew how many outstanding and superior performance ratings CO employees had earned nationwide and compared that to the number of nominations for Administrator Awards they had received. We also heard from Brad Karmen, Acting DAFP. He shared with everyone that, as he arrived at our meeting, the Whitehouse was trying to gather information on the devastating fires in several SWA states. The Whitehouse wanted the information by 12:00 p.m., which gave them less than 1.5 hours to get it together. This information was collected from each state, compiled, and delivered to the Whitehouse by 11:59 a.m. This is just another example of why FSA is known as the “can do” agency. We were reminded that Congress is aware of the job we do and dollars we disperse across the country. It’s important that we continue to do our jobs to the best of our ability.

The next stop was Washington, D.C., for the NASCOE Negotiations Meeting with FSA Management. We met in a conference room in the Whiten Building that has been used by Presidents of the United States of America and numerous Secretaries of Agriculture. Sitting in this esteemed room gave me the sense of how important our negotiations process is. Where it may not compare to discussions between a United States President and his cabinet, it did make me appreciate the seriousness of our dialogues with management. The NASCOE team did an amazing job representing you and the issues you asked us to discuss on your behalf with Management. We were very successful in reaching positive agreements with Management on most of the items. A detailed report will be forthcoming when the final results are released by Management. Thanks to FSA Management for listening and working with NASCOE to help all of us do the best job we can in serving our producers. I also want to thank the NASCOE team for all of their preparation and professionalism in presenting your issues and concerns. We also worked with Management on the possibility of some relief for recent CP Notice concerning late-filed certification and, as always, strengthening COC authorities.

Next I flew to Fargo, North Dakota, with MWA Executive Chris Hare to attend the MNASCOE Convention in Alexandria, Minnesota. We flew into Fargo because our good friend Gwen Uecker had offered to pick us up at the airport and show us a lot of the farming around Cass County and carry us to and from Alexandria, Minnesota. Some good friends joined us on our tour, and while we discussed all aspects of our various FSA jobs, we really enjoyed the vast countryside and all the rich soil and abundance of water. The convention was well attended and very informative. There is an exciting trend happening at recent conventions and rallies. There were 17 first-timers in attendance at MNASCOE Convention. I was impressed and excited as I got to visit with them and encourage them to become active members of NASCOE.

As I have traveled around the country, I have become very concerned about the County Committee (COC) delivery system and especially the COC’s authorities and responsibilities. We all should know that the COC hires and supervises the CED. The CED hires and supervises the program technicians in their office or offices. The CED manages the office. District Directors are liaisons between the State Committee and the County Committee, supervise farm loan managers, and are a tremendous resource for the county offices. DD’s have an important role in FSA, but they do not supervise county offices, as some assume. Because COC members do not have access to our government computers, DD’s electronically approve the CED’s time and attendance for the COC in WEBTA. NASCOE has also received a small number of concerns across the country with District Directors changing the COC’s performance evaluation of their CED. DD’s should always consult with the COC’s and provide factual information to support or lower the COC’s appraisal of the CED. These discussions should be taking place throughout the rating period and documented in the COC Executive Minutes. We hear too many instances where our COC’s are not adequately involved. County Committees and CED’s must understand their obligations to document performance metrics and operational progress in the monthly county committee minutes. Are you documenting sign-up numbers and your efficiency of meeting deadlines? Are you doing a good job documenting your outreach efforts and anything you do above your normal duties? It is very important to keep your COC well-informed and involved in everything going on in your office. Keep your DD informed of your COC’s actions and requests. Remember, we are a team and ultimately it is about serving our farmers and ranchers. When we need to improve, let’s recognize that and hold ourselves accountable. When we excel, let’s highlight our accomplishments. As our Acting Administrator, Chris Beyerhelm, said in Dayton, let’s recognize our employees that are doing superior and outstanding work.

It’s good to be home after an extended NASCOE trip. I tremendously enjoyed getting to spend the last ten days working with the NASCOE Team. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you do for our membership! I would like to thank my FSA office staff, Christel Youmans and Tiffany Howard, for all they do for the producers of Dillon County, SC. I simply could not serve NASCOE if it were not for them and the support of my COC. Last, but not least, thanks to my wife, Anne, for supporting my efforts and travels on behalf of NASCOE, and to my son, Will, for taking care of our livestock while I am away from home.

Respectfully Submitted by,

Wes Daniels
NASCOE President

President’s Transition Report

I hope everybody is getting ready for the holiday season and has big plans to enjoy your family and friends during this time. Even as busy as it has been all across the country, we all have a lot to be thankful for. I wanted to address some concerns and thoughts that have been shared with NASCOE lately.

Many of you are anxious about the transition to a new President of the United States of America, his administration, and how it will impact FSA and the membership of NASCOE. We have read about the proposed hiring freeze and the uncertainty this creates for membership. First of all, we will probably learn more about this proposal and other changes as we get closer to the Inauguration and our new President takes office. We have all heard there will be a hiring freeze but we don’t know if that will allow us to continue to fill from within or not. For example if we have CED openings and COTs on board, can we fill those vacancies? We also don’t know if we will actually have a hiring freeze – we just know what we have read. Most of the information we can obtain doesn’t seem to indicate a hiring freeze would be long term. NASCOE’s legislative Consultant, Hunter Moorhead, has been working hard and will continue to keep us informed.  His “Legislative Update” was sent out recently, and I encourage you to read through that on the NASCOE website’s homepage if you have not already.

Membership has also inquired about changes to our retirement system and TSP. NASCOE will continue, as we always have, to monitor these benefits and will keep you updated. Most of these types of things would take congressional action and have been discussed previously without a lot of traction. Some of the conversations have addressed changes for new hires and we will stay on top of all these things. Again, having Hunter is a great advantage. He is watching, and will keep us updated on any proposed changes that will affect our membership and FSA employees in general.

Over the past two years, NASCOE’s leadership has worked aggressively to build relationships with both the Agriculture and Appropriations Committees. With the election behind us, these relationships will be important as we collectively monitor the new Administration’s legislative and regulatory proposals. Following January 20, we will start to learn more about the pathway forward. Our team can guarantee membership that we are prepared for all proposals and view the new Administration as an opportunity to improve our working environment. We feel strongly about the importance of our customer service function, and believe Members of the House and Senate are prepared to assist us throughout the process.

Most of the concerns we are hearing will become clearer in the next few months. I want to reassure you that your NASCOE Executive Committee is doing all we can to stay on top of these and many other issues. As we learn more, we will do all we can to share the information we gain with all of NASCOE. Please let us hear from you! All of your issues and concerns are important to us and our membership. You can send your issues directly to us, or go through your State Association Presidents and they will forward it to your National Leadership Team through the Area Executive Committee Persons.

At this point, as we move into the transition and New Year, let’s remain positive and continue to accomplish our main goals and mission, which is to serve the greatest farmers and ranchers in the world. One thing I know that we can be sure of, is that there has never been a more important time to be a member of NASCOE.  I hope every one of you has a Merry Christmas and the best New Year ever!!!

Respectfully Submitted by,

Wes Daniels
NASCOE President

Legislative Update

Please see the following message from Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE Legislative Consultant. We will continue to keep you updated as things in the legislative arena develop.


Good afternoon – Please accept this informal email as an update on both the legislative outlook and the Trump transition process.

Legislative Outlook – The House and Senate are working aggressively to pass two or three important bills before adjourning. The 114th Congress is likely to expire Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. Before hitting the doors, Congress will likely pass the Continuing Resolution which will fund the government through April 28, 2017. The level for FSA and FSA programs will continue at current levels. At this point, the Congress is expected to redraft/complete the drafted fiscal year 2017 appropriations bills. In my opinion, that will be difficult considering the new President and new agenda for 2017. The National Defense Authorization bill and Water Resources Development bill will likely be the only significant pieces of legislation reaching this President’s desk before adjournment.

In regard to our interest, the Continuing Resolution includes our FSA specific policy riders and adequately funds the agency. The bill doesn’t include any additional funding/Farm Bill implementation funding to extend or hire temporary workers.

Trump Transition – We are all doing our best to monitor the Trump transition process for all positions within the Executive branch. At this point, it is difficult to determine who will become the Secretary of Agriculture, much less any policy proposals that may impact employees or farm programs. Remember, President-elect Trump’s inauguration will not occur until the end of January. At that point, the Administration will likely move quickly to address burdensome government regulations and repeal Obamacare or the ACA Health Care law. In addition, the Administration and Congress will quickly focus on overhauling the tax code. I’m hopeful that you all understand the timelines and know that nobody has the answers regarding Trump’s policy proposals. Most news articles are based on press comments and twitter feeds that come and go.

Who will be the Secretary of Agriculture? If anybody tells you they know, they are lying unless you hear it directly from the incoming President or Vice President. Remember, it could certainly be a person who has not been mentioned. This transition team is using decoys to shield actual candidates.

2016 Convention Reports

Cedar Rapids

The 2016 NASCOE Convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa was a great success! If you were unable to attend, please read through the reports below to see what you missed. The questions and responses from the Q&A session with management will be posted in the near future. Thank you to IASCOE for hosting a fantastic convention!

President’s Report
Vice President’s Report
Secretary’s Report
MWA Report
NEA Report
NWA Report
SEA Report
SWA Report
Awards, Scholarships, and Emblems Report
Benefits Report
Legislative Report
Membership Report
NAFEC Report
Programs Report
Publicity Report

Budget Agreement Update

Congressional leadership and President Obama have reached an agreement regarding the statutory budget caps and increasing the debt limit. Please see the attached section-by-section for full details. This agreement should allow the appropriations process to be completed before the December 11 deadline. The agreement does include the below crop insurance policy provision.

Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA) — The SRA must be renegotiated no later than December 31, 2016. This section also establishes an 8.9 percent cap on the overall rate of return for insurance providers under the agreement. Currently, the negotiated overall rate of return is about 14.5 percent.

House and Senate Agriculture Committee members view this as opening the recently negotiated Farm Bill and remain publicly opposed.  Please see the statement below. 

At this point, we expect the House and Senate will approve the legislation. 

Ag Committee Leaders Stand United Against Reopening Farm Bill to New Crop Insurance Cuts

Today, Agriculture Committee Chairmen Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Rep. K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and Ranking Members Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., made the following statements on the budget deal. 

The Members of Congress stand united against reopening the 2014 Farm Bill to further cuts, emphasizing that the proposed cuts to crop insurance in the budget agreement would undermine a critical risk management tool for American agriculture producers and consumers.

“Farmers and ranchers have done more than their fair share to reduce government spending,” 
said Chairman Roberts. “To target the number one priority for producers with additional cuts will undermine the delivery of this important protection for agriculture. While Congressional leaders may sell this package as providing budget stability, it is anything but stable for farmers and ranchers. It took years to negotiate and pass a new Farm Bill. Producers have signed contracts and purchased policies. These proposals to make further cuts to the crop insurance program were not included in the House or Senate passed budgets, in any appropriations bills or in the President’s budget request. Once again, our leaders are attempting to govern by backroom deals where the devil is in the details. I will continue to oppose any attempts to cut crop insurance funding or to change crop insurance program policies.”

“Make no mistake, this is not about saving money. It is about eliminating Federal Crop Insurance,” 
said Chairman Conaway. “The House Agriculture Committee was not consulted regarding any changes to policies under the jurisdiction of our committee. This provision is opposed by an overwhelming majority or our committee members. It was debated and defeated during the 2014 farm bill process, and to move forward with it now breaks faith with the American producer. I am working alongside many of my colleagues to have the provision removed. If it is not removed, I will vote against this bill and work to defeat its passage. The American people deserve better than continued backroom deals struck in the middle of the night that entirely undercut the legislative process.”

“I oppose any efforts to cut or reopen Farm Bill programs. It is particularly disappointing to see cuts to crop insurance in the budget agreement,”
 said Ranking Member Stabenow. “These types of cuts only undermine the economic certainty that the Farm Bill provides. The Farm Bill made meaningful reforms to help reduce the deficit. Any attempts to reopen any part of the Farm Bill to more cuts would be a major set-back for rural America and our efforts to create jobs.”

“We made major cuts when we wrote the Farm Bill,” 
said Ranking Member Peterson. “It is not appropriate to cut agriculture again. The Farm Bill should not be raided. I oppose any cuts.”

I will continue to send updates as the discussion continues. 

Hunter Moorhead
NASCOE Legislative Consultant

Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015

NASCOE News Flash: Notes From WDC Meetings

NASCOE News Flash

NASCOE President Wes Daniels and Vice President Dennis Ray recently traveled to Washington DC to meet with agency leadership and discuss important issues affecting NASCOE members. Please see their notes below for updates regarding several issues currently faced by FSA county office employees.


We started the meeting by thanking all parties involved with getting the recent OPM determination regarding creditable service for CO employees reversed.

Due to limited resources and the need to plan accordingly, Administrator Val Dolcini asked for a list of dates for next year’s area rallies and national convention. Administrator Dolcini would like to see the Employee Associations plan joint rallies and conventions to reduce travel, time commitments and cost for the national office possibly by 2017.

Membership has expressed concerns regarding the multiple sources of instruction. With directives coming through handbooks amendments, notices, email, share point files and info bulletins, it is sometimes difficult to know that you are applying the most current procedure. Associate Administrator Beyerhelm has started the review process of consolidating directives and has made that a priority for FY-2016. NASCOE was asked for feedback from the field regarding recent 25-AS changes.

Deputy Administrator Greg Diephouse discussed that FY-16 performance plans will include a standard related to Receipt for Service for all employees and would provide a copy of the language that would be in the performance plans.

Associate Administrator Mike Schmidt gave a quick overview of his new position. He is responsible for Farm Loan Programs, Farm Programs, External Affairs and Commodity Operations. Topics raised by NASCOE included ACRSI, the re-write of the 2-CP handbook, spot-check procedures and Redelegations of Authority.

The results of the ACRSI pilot were discussed and it was reported that FSA fared very well in the pilot. Mike indicated there were issues such as error corrections that were exposed during the pilot that are being addressed. Mike indicated that we need to maintain our reporting standards and not reduce them to make it work for someone else.

NASCOE revisited that procedure was changed in 2-CRP giving the CED the authority to approve contracts without the COC having to redelegate that authority. That change was made when county committee meetings were being restricted due to funding issues. With county committees meeting regularly again Mike agreed to review the handbook and consider reinstating that the COC would need to delegate that authority to the CED.

The spot check selection has not been sent to counties timely. Some counties are not receiving the names of the person to be spot checked until after crops have been harvested. There was some discussion about only spot checking a percentage of the fields or tracts if the person selected has an excessive number of farms to be spot-checked and we were encouraged to visit with DAFP.

DAFO
We met with DAFO and staff members and asked for an update on items that were negotiated during the most recent negotiation session.

DAFO has made PT training a priority for FY-16 and begun a review of the old counter skills training and will be looking to modernize it and broaden it to include more customer service training.

NASCOE asked about the virtual task force that was proposed at the negotiation session to discuss shared management operations issues. This task force has not been formed yet but is still planned. John Chott asked NASCOE to send up issues and recommended best practices.

NASCOE appreciates the support of the Key PT position by DAFO and for expanding the number of possible Key PT’s per state. While not every state is taking advantage of the position, the number of Key PT’s is increasing. NASCOE asked for a report of the number of district directors, CO Key PT’s and GS Key PT’s, and DAFO agreed to provide this report.

The Lead PT position was discussed and the discrepancy between the agreement NASCOE negotiated with management and the actual handbook procedure. The agreement states that one PT in a shared management operation shall be a Lead PT if the CED is absence from the office more than 40% of the time and the handbook states that one PT may be a Lead PT. DAFO agreed to correct the procedure to match the agreement in exhibit 8 of 27-PM.

Compensation for CED’s with 2 grade 12 counties in a shared management operation. DAFO agreed to continue to review this and look at other possibilities to make this increasing situation more desirable.

DAFO reassured NASCOE that County committee meetings are fully funded and should not be restricted.

Performance ratings for FY-15 and development of FY-16 plans were discussed. A standard for Receipt for Service will be included in the FY-2016 performance Plan. DAFO also agreed to work on ratings being more consistent through all of FSA.

HR
A priority for HR has been to fix the hiring issues. It was noted that qualified applicants are failing to make the certificates due to the application process. The main problem is with the USAJobs website. It was noted that candidates can review the information submitted prior to transmitting the final application. Barbara Boyd mentioned that an applicant tool kit is being developed to aid applicants and help them in completing the process. They are looking to have a review group look at the CO hiring process in the next 6 months. They have also hired a contractor to look at the hiring process.

One of the negotiation items from earlier this year was the Aspiring Leaders for PT’s. A contractor has been hired to develop this program. NASCOE has previously submitted names to participate in this process and all names were accepted. They are just waiting on the contractor to begin work.

We also discussed the EEO/Civil Right Element for non-supervisors and how that seemed to be the most difficult element to achieve an exceeds fully successful. Barbara reminded us that it is more than EEO/Civil Rights. It also includes Diversity and Inclusion and that maybe we are missing the efforts made in those areas when we do our ratings. She also indicated that the draft version of proposed changes to 5-PM had been sent to the NASCOE President for review.

We also discussed some confusion on the Employee Viewpoint Survey when it comes to the CED supervisor. When the survey asks the CED to answer questions regarding their supervisor it is referring to the County Committee. NASCOE asked this to be made very clear in the instructions as some members have shared that they felt like it possibly was referring to a District Director.

 IT
There was quite a bit of discussion regarding the Citrix Task Force. NASCOE representatives on the task force were disappointed in the pilot program of the new Citrix platform and felt that it did not make sufficient improvements over the old version. The IT group explained where they were on the pilot and that they would try to improve communication with the task force members. Larry Gross and members of his staff agree that the new Citrix environment has not met expectations and they are exploring new possibilities in this area.

Larry informed us that they have started holding quarterly all SED conference Calls to discuss IT issues. He encouraged NASCOE to ask DAFO for a copy of the minutes from those calls.

NASCOE reported that members had been instructed to not send in a remedy ticket in some situations. They told us that the only time that should happen is if an info bulletin specifically stated that IT was aware of the problem and said to not send in any more tickets. Any request to not send in a remedy ticket that is not specifically referenced in an info bulletin should be reported to your NASCOE representative so it can be elevated for review.

ACRSI
NASCOE received an update on the status of the Acreage Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative (ACRSI) project. ACRSI is designed to facilitate the flow of information between FSA, RMA and NRCS in an effort to reduce the administrative burden on producers and was mandated in the current farm bill. The goal of ACRSI is for producers to report their acreages at one location and then the information could be electronically shared between all agencies that need that information.

The initial pilot project consisted of 15 counties from Illinois and Iowa. That phase has been completed and ACRSI is in the early steps of implementing phase two which expanded the pilot to all counties in 15 states. In rolling out the ACRSI version of CARS to the pilot states there have been a couple of problems that need correcting and that was being worked on as we met.

Crop reporting has been and remains the foundation that all FSA programs are built upon and ACRSI does not change that. It is important that regardless of where the report is filed that it meets the standards necessary for participation in programs administered by each respective agency.  

DAFP
Acting Deputy Administrator Brad Pfaff gave a quick update on ARC/PLC payments that had been approved for release. He indicated close to $3.9 billion dollars would be issued during the cycle.

We discussed the fact that some counties have triggered for LFP recently that had not previously offered the program. In many cases the acreage reporting dates have passed. As was seen in the initial offering of LFP for 2011, 2012 and 2013 many of the affected producers have not been participating in our programs. As a result many are now faced with paying late filed fees for their acreage reports. Since those late filed fees were waived in the counties that offered previous LFP programs it was questioned if something could be done for these producers. Brad Pfaff agreed to look into the possibility that first time applicants for LFP have their late-filed fee waived.

The timing of Compliance Spot Checks was discussed and the number of fields that were being required to be checked. DAFP agreed to look into a way to make the process more timely and efficient.

The last topic discussed was the 848 form and how to make that form less cumbersome and more user friendly.

Workload Measurement
NASCOE has long supported a reliable workload tool to assist the National Office in making staffing decisions. The OBF/FSA workload reporting system has been under review to see if it can better collect usable data for measuring workload. During one of our discussions, Associate Administrator Chris Beyerhelm offered us the chance to see the new activity reporting system demonstrated. We were encouraged by what we saw and would like to thank Chris allowing us the chance to see the progress they are making.

NASCOE News Flash: Congress Acts to Avoid Government Shutdown

NASCOE News Flash

The U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation today that would fund the government through December 11. The President is expected to move quickly to sign the measure. Please see the additional information below. The chance of a shutdown is now near zero.

FY 2016 SHORT-TERM CONTINUING RESOLUTION

  • Keeps the government operating through December 11, 2015.
  • Provides funding at annual rate that conforms to the topline discretionary spending limit established by the Budget Control Act for FY 2016 –$1.017 trillion.
  • Provides Overseas Contingency Operations funding at a rate of $74.758 billion.
  • Includes $700 million in emergency funding for wildland fire suppression.

Includes small number of funding anomalies to address unique circumstances that arise during the CR period, such as:

  • Supporting claims processors for veterans’ disability claims at the rate necessary to address backlog
  • Maintaining launch schedule for the joint polar satellite
  • Paying ongoing rental assistance contracts in the rural housing program
  • Accommodating increased demand for 7(a) small business loans

Includes extensions of certain expiring authorities for the duration of the CR (except as otherwise noted):

  • Internet Tax Freedom Act
  • E-Verify
  • Federal Aviation Administration (6 months)