Programs Submission Response: Farm Reconstitutions and Transfers

ISSUE:
Difficulty in tracking reconstitution history and county transfers

FACTS:
It can be difficult to trace the history of a farm after multiple recons. MIDAS currently shows the “Combined from” and “Divided from” information in Farm Records. 

SOLUTIONS:
Would it be possible to include the Combined from and Divided from information print on the FSA-156EZ?

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
Thank you for submitting the concerns with tracking reconstitutions and the suggestions for the FSA-156EZ. We recognize that the ability to track reconstitutions has been a pain point with the field staff since the expected reconstitution reports were not able to be implemented immediately in MIDAS CRM. I am hoping that the software update that occurred this last weekend with MIDAS Release 2.19 provides the tools and reconstitution reports the users are needing to assist with tracking the history of a farm or tract through the completed reconstitutions. Please see Web Transmittal No. 536 for additional information on the new reconstitution ID and reports that are now available. A notice will also be posted in the near future with additional information and instructions.

While the new reports in CRM Farm Records will not reference the reconstitutions completed in CRM prior to the software update, all reconstitutions completed from this time forward will be assigned a Reconstitution ID number and reports can be generated to identify the parent and/or child farms and tracts associated with the specific reconstitution. Concerning the FSA-156EZ, this initial release of the reconstitution reports did not include populating the FSA-156EZ with the reconstitution ID. This has been identified as a needed update. We will also look into adding the “combine from” and “divided from” on the form. Adding the reconstitution ID and the additional reconstitution data to the FSA-156EZ will be an enhancement to the existing functionality and will be subject to prioritization and funding.

There currently is not a plan to add a County Transfer report in CRM Farm Records, but there will be a County Transfer report in the new reporting application that is being developed. Hopefully this report will assist counties with tracking the farm transfers as needed.

Programs Submission Response: Measurements in MIDAS

ISSUE:
When measuring lines in MIDAS with the measurement tool, the lines disappear when measuring multiple lines. They do not stay on the screen.

FACTS:
It makes it hard to have a guideline for a split when the measure line disappears.

SOLUTIONS:
Suggestion would be to be able to keep each line on the screen until an “erase all” or “delete measurements” icon was selected. This way multiple measurements could be made and used for splits.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
You are correct that the measurement service tool available from the General GIS Toolbar in CRM does have limitations. As you stated, the user is limited to only a single measurement session at a time. We can look into adding additional functionality to the measurement service tool, though this enhancement will be subject to prioritization and funding.

 In the meantime, I want to make sure that users are aware of the existing functionality of the measurement service tool. Users can draw out multiple measured boundaries as long as the segments measured are connected and drawn in a single measurement service session. The measurement service graphics will also stay on the screen so users can use them as reference when delineating a field with the drawing tools as long as the user was in an Edit mode prior to drawing the measurement service. Additional functionality includes the ability to “snap” to the measurement service graphics while delineating the permanent boundary using the regular snapping functions (Holding the control-key and clicking on a vertex of the measurement service boundary).

Below is an example of measurement service using the Draw Polygon option:

midas example

I am in an Edit mode. The Draw Polygon tool was used to measure a new area. The length/distance of each segment of the measurement service is labeled on the screen. Once I select the field that the measurement service is within (and zoom to the correct extent), the GIS editing tools become active and the measurement service stays on the screen. The new boundary can be delineated and the snapping function can be used to snap the new boundary to the measurement service graphic. The measurement service graphic will stay on the screen until a Save and Sync is completed.

 

Programs Submission Response: CARS & MIDAS Interface

ISSUE:
Re-entering FSA-578 information into the CARS software after a reconstitution has been performed.

FACTS:
The amount of time it takes to re-enter crop certification after a recon has been performed on the farm is inefficient and time consuming. We are replicating data that has already been manually loaded once.

SOLUTIONS:
Link MIDAS CRM Farm Records software, specifically the reconstitution aspect to CARS. When completing a recon, the software could ask us whether we want to retain or discard the current FSA-578 information on the child farm(s). Most of the time, the basic field level data from CARS will remain the same. It would be much more efficient if there was a way to roll the information over into the child farm(s) in CARS, and prevent the need for reloading the information.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
This is something that we have been wanting to do for years. We have this item in our list of enhancements.

 

Programs Submission Response: MIDAS KFC Requests

ISSUE:
Business Partner-KFC requests to inactivate producer record.

FACTS:
Producer record inactivation requests must be submitted to the STO specialist in charge of Common Management for process through MIDAS BP. Producer inactivations include both those who have social security and/or entity ID numbers established with IRS and producers who do not receive any payments and are assigned a temporary ID number by MIDAS.

SOLUTIONS:
Producer inactivations for those with temporary ID numbers could be taken care of at the county office level. The potential for overpayments due to inactivation does not exist since these producers have not received payment. This would result in STO specialist time being spent on more important issues and result in cost savings.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
We cannot implement the proposed solution, for the following reasons.

Handbook 1-CM (Rev. 3) subparagraph 177 B defines a long list of criteria that must be met prior to inactivating a customer. The criteria is not limited to non-receipt of payment.

Temporary IDs are not permitted, but the customer can have “No Tax ID” recorded.  Customers with “No Tax ID”:

  • Can be recorded in BP as a Farm Loan Customer
  • Can be recorded in BP as an NRCS Customer
  • Can be recorded on a Farm

Even if the customer did not have any payments issued to him, if any of the above criteria are true, or any others defined in subparagraph 177 B, the customer record CANNOT be inactivated. It is for this reason that it is critical for the Business Partner State Security Officer (SSO) to review and approve all requests to Inactivate a customer record.

The inactivation request process was not automated in SCIMS, even though the provisions were the same. COFs were required to email or call the STO to request an inactivation. In CRM, the KFC Request workflow was designed as a process improvement to streamline and expedite those requests.

President’s Notes from NASCOE Meetings with Management

 

NASCOE Vice President, Dennis Ray, and I recently visited WDC and feel that we had a really productive trip. We met with the following people in management:

  • Val Dolcini, FSA Administrator
  • Mark Rucker, Deputy Administrator of management (DAM)
  • Greg Diephouse, Deputy Administrator of Field Operations (DAFO)
  • Radha Sekar, Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Brad Pfaff, Deputy Administrator of Farm Programs (DAFP)
  • Chris Beyerhelm, Associate Administrator
  • Mike Schmidt, Associate Administrator
  • Thomas Mulhern, Human Resources Director
  • Darren Ash, Chief information Officer (CIO)

We met with the Deputy Administrator of Management (DAM), Mark Rucker, on leasing, phone, and office environmental conditions, space issues and wavier requirements. DAM understands our county office environment and needs. We also talked about the CISCO phone system and the upgrades that seem to be helping improve the system. There are a few environmental issues across the country that were discussed, and DAM agreed to follow up on those. DAM is always receptive to improving our working conditions.

We met next with Greg Diephouse, Deputy Administrator of Field Operations (DAFO) and his staff Linda Treese, Pat Spalding, Rick Pinkston, and Trina Brake. DAFO agreed to send out a NASCOE Membership Packet for STO use with new CO hires. DAFO has mailed every SED and STO a NASCOE Membership packet. DAFO encourages all employees to join their respective associations and realizes the importance of each association’s mission. NASCOE appreciates DAFO’s effort and support with this, and many other issues. The status of the shared management negotiation item was discussed. There should be an amendment out soon that requires written confirmation that a proposed shared management arrangement has been discussed with all the COC’s involved, as well as with the NASCOE State Association President. Other topics included COC authority, BTO update, staffing issues, temps, county office footprint and structure, performance issues and the NAPA Study.

Radha Sekar, FSA Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and Bob McGrath discussed budget, workload, and staffing. The CFO says we are not tremendously understaffed, as most CO employees think, because we continue to meet most of our program deadlines and get payments out timely. We discussed several staffing issues, including that our FTE’s aren’t figured considering the permanent disaster programs like LFP and ECP. It was agreed that some administrative funds should come with the implementation of these types of programs. There currently are no provisions for this, and it was suggested that NASCOE work with DAFP on this issue. NASCOE asked about the workload tool and its release. NASCOE still feels strongly that we are understaffed across the country and that a workload measurement tool is needed. The CFO has agreed to share some data from the proposed workload tool with NASCOE for constructive feedback.

Brad Pfaff, Deputy Administrator of Farm Programs (DAFP), and his staff Brad Karman and Kim Viers (on a detailed assignment) met with us on COC authorities in 2-CRP. NASCOE has asked for DAFP to reinstate COC authority to approve CRP-1’s and delegate that authority to CED’s. The current handbook policy allows the CED to approve CRP-1’s without delegation. DAFP has promised to try and reinstate this policy. DAFP recently has asked NASCOE to review certain information on ACRSI as it would pertain to county office operations. NASCOE has had a task force working on ACRSI for over a year-and-a-half and appreciates management allowing us to provide constructive feedback on its impact to the field. NASCOE had asked DAFP for some relief for those states that just learned that their forage reporting date would now become November 15th. DAFP waived late file fees for those states for thirty days. NASCOE also shared some concerns with other agencies having the ability to make MIDAS edits. DAFP didn’t feel that any of these edits would interfere with FSA, but agreed to go back and look at a few concerns that NASCOE membership had. We wrapped up the DAFP session discussing our geospatial needs.

Dennis and I met next with Chris Beyerhelm, Associate Administrator, on directives, staffing, cost analysis update, county office footprint, COC authorities, WEBTA, and GovDelivery. The Associate Director intends to get all of our directives updated and simplified. As always, staffing and budget issues dominate most of the conversations with our Associate Administrator.

Val Dolcini, FSA Administrator, discussed what he thought FSA’s future looked like. He felt that NASCOE’s role with employee issues and negotiations has been very effective. He hopes we will continue to have the all-association negotiation sessions. The Administrator feels that there is a benefit to all the associations being in WDC at one time. The Associations, including NASCOE, feel that the joint negotiations meetings have been successful. NASCOE thanked Val for his leadership and the support he has given NASCOE during his administration. He has allowed us to work with all of FSA’s management personnel on a lot of different issues during his time in WDC.

Mike Schmidt, Associate Administrator, and his assistant, Katina Hanson, met with us on ACRSI and COC authority. The Associate Administrator supports the COC system and its role. As new farm bill talks begin, NASCOE will continue to stress the importance of a strong COC delivery system.

Thomas Mulhern, Human Resource’s Director, and Barbara Boyd, Deputy Director for Human Resources, met with us on the status of the PT position description task force. This task force has met with some success on rewriting PT position descriptions. NASCOE had asked for a task force, which resulted from a negotiation item from last year. The task force is also looking at adding a position with promotion opportunities for PT’s as well as continuing to look into the possibility of a grade reclassification. We also discussed the CO hiring process. It has been mandated that the CO hiring process will start using a questionnaire to replace the current KSA’s. NASCOE will have representation on this task force as well.

Darren Ash, Chief Informational Officer (CIO), met with us and gave us an update on IT issues. We discussed MIDAS edits and ACRSI. The CIO addressed our ability to have reports and query information that we need to perform our job at a more efficient level. There should be some much awaited information on this coming soon. We discussed the IT Steering Committee and its future. Darren has worked hard to communicate well with the field on all of our concerns and issues and is making progress in resolving them. NASCOE appreciates the time that the CIO gives us and the personal touch he has given the field in addressing our needs.

Respectfully Submitted by,

Wes Daniels
NASCOE President

Programs Submission Response: CCC-505 and CCC-517 Tools Enhancements

ISSUE #1:
CCC-505 tool, ‘Complete/Print’ button reminder. Selecting the ‘Complete/Print’ button sends a workflow to the CED, who should not execute decision until verifying that all signatures have been obtained. Why not change it so that the form can be printed at the “Save as Draft” option?

FACTS #1:
Some COFs are doing manual forms to get signatures and thus doing dual duty to ensure that everything is obtained before the CED approves in MIDAS. Having the print option at the draft level would ensure that we have a form, without having to do a manual, to get the signatures, but it wouldn’t be put on the CED’s worklist for approval until after the signatures are obtained and the PT goes back in and clicks “Complete/Print.”

SOLUTION #1:
Either change the “Save as Draft” option to “Save as Draft and Print” or add a “Print 505” option separate from “Complete/Print.”

WDC RESPONSE #1:
This suggestion is not being submitted as a future enhancement. Through the automated CCC-505 process, the form cannot be printed until the base acreage reduction request has been submitted for approval in the system.  This ensures that the reduction request submitted for approval matches the form printed for signatures. The concern with allowing the form to be printed as a draft is that the producer could sign the draft form, but changes to the base reduction data in the system could be completed (after it is printed) and then submitted and approved. In this instance the signed CCC-505 does not match the approved reductions.   


ISSUE #2:
Currently the CCC-517 form prints only the information for base acres that are being proposed for a change when completing the form through MIDAS.

FACTS #2:
When more than one base is present on a tract, this can be confusing for a producer to see only the base acres that are being revised.

SOLUTION #2:
Having all bases print on the CCC-517 would be less confusing for producers. This would let them see all the bases that are still present on the tract of land, and not just list the base that is being revised. Would this revision be possible?

WDC RESPONSE #2:
Thank you for this suggestion. With the current design of the automated CCC-517 process, all base crops are available as an option to redistribute within the wizard. It is only when the redistribution request is submitted and the form is available to be printed, that the base crops not involved in the redistribution are omitted from the form. It is believed this would be a minor change to the application to include all crops on the printed CCC-517 form. This suggestion will be submitted as a future enhancement for management to prioritize. 

Programs Submission Response: MIDAS GIS Enhancement

ISSUE:
MIDAS/GIS  

FACTS:
After selecting Save and Sync in MIDAS following a CLU revision, the zoom resets to the farm level, requiring the user to select the tract again, then pan and zoom back to the area of interest in which they were working

SOLUTIONS:
After Save and Sync is selected in MIDAS, it would be beneficial for the GIS screen to return to the most recent view. If the user wants to then return to the whole farm view instead, it would simply require the user to click once on the farm level in the menu, which would be far more efficient than the current method.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
Returning to the farm level following a save and sync and the need to select the tract again and then zoom and pan back to the specific area of interest are documented pain points in the current CRM Farm Records design. As planning for future enhancements and alternative approaches for farm records functionality take place, elimination of these pain points is at the forefront of considerations.

Under the current design at the time GIS edits are saved and passed to CRM the GIS layers visible to the user change. This change occurs because the software switches from edit mode to display mode. When this change in modes occurs, the system resets GIS display and zoom settings to pre-established default values. Additional logic must be added to the software in order to maintain the specific location and zoom scale that existed at the time GIS edits are saved and synced. It is expected that this improved logic will be included as part of a larger plan to redesign GIS and Farm Records.

Programs Submission Response: Business Partner Enhancement

ISSUE:
MIDAS Business Partner-Representative Capacity  “In-Creation” records

FACTS:
When reviewing the Representative Capacity record in MIDAS it’s easy to overlook an “In Creation” status. If pending records in creation were easier to identify this would help in reducing errors.

SOLUTIONS:
If the words “In Creation” were in a RED font on the Representative Capacity tab it would be easier to identify those particular records.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
We will work with the CRM/Business Partner development team to discuss options. Red font would likely not be 508 compliant, but there may be alternatives that are. If there are users that are still having difficulty identifying Active vs. In Creation entries, we will find a solution to make them stand out more.  We appreciate the suggestion, I will follow up with you when I have a proposed solution.

ADDITIONAL NATIONAL OFFICE INFORMATION:
MIDAS Development team was able to include an enhancement for this issue in the MIDAS 2.16 Release, this past weekend (OCT 15-16/2016). The full details of the release are covered in Web Transmittal 492. In Representative Capacity, the Status column will be sorted in descending order so that ‘In Creation’ entries will be displayed at the top, followed by ‘Active’ entries. This should help field offices quickly and accurately identify the current status of the RepCaps.

 

Programs Submission Response: MIDAS

ISSUE:
An office indicated that they haven’t had a MIDAS Death Master worklist item in several months.  They are aware of producers who have deceased and were wondering if there is a problem in the downloads. It may be that the Social Security folks haven’t been informed of those particular individuals.

FACTS:
I know the CO can manually record individual deaths in MIDAS, but I wanted to follow up just in case there was something larger going on that needed following up on.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE:
The Death Master file has been “on hold” for 3 weeks because we are transitioning from a 3rd party data source, to getting the data directly from SSA. Once the SSA data source is flowing, you may see a large number of workflows come thru. An IB will be issued when that occurs, as an FYI to COFs.

However, if you haven’t had any come through for months (rather than 3 weeks), it’s just likely that those customers haven’t been reported via that 3rd party data source to FSA. The main reason for getting the data directly from SSA is to cut down on the lag time it takes us to get the DOD updates.