President Update 2
If you have not seen it I encourage you all to go to nacs-fsa.org and view the "Why NACS" Info Video. The Membership Committee worked on putting this together at convention and with the help of webmaster Mark Drewitz it is on the website and available to view and download to help with membership recruitment. Many states have indicated they are going to have a training meeting which is an excellent opportunity to reach out to potential members. Even if you are a member viewing the video can be motivational.
The NACS Board has been contacted by members who have received a request from the FSA Emergency Preparedness Division to submit a release of credit information, medical records, finger prints, Selective Service numbers and other various forms. Members are asking why this is happening. I talked to Rob Haughton, FSA Acting Director Emergency Preparedness, about the process. As loan officials lending federal dollars we are subject to Public Trust Moderate Risk Background Investigation. Mr. Haughton said that FSA has not been in compliance of the regulations for 5 years. He said that if you have a poor credit history the best thing you can do is to be honest about what has happened and actions you have taken to address any problems. The release for medical records is requested but is not used unless the references you provide indicate problems may exist. Finger prints are required because the FBI will not check records if the prints are more than 6 months old. Finger prints do change over time. You can find more information on the investigation process at www.opm.gov.
After gathering surveys from the state associations the NACS Board has voted to discontinue having Zone Meetings and National Convention with Rural Development in 2015. The NACS Convention Committee will be working on establishing guidelines for states to use when bidding for and holding these meetings. The committee will also make recommendations on how responsibilities can be shared and not have the membership from the host state being responsible for everything.
Today I had the opportunity to listen in on the Farm Loan Chief's quarterly conference call with Chris Beyerhelm and his staff. Notes will be coming on that in the near future.
A quote from the late Zig Ziglar is "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want."
Through our careers with FSA, we have the opportunity to help other people get what they want.
Have an Unbelievable Day
Allen D. Hall
President Update 1
On July 19th I along with other presidents of employee organizations throughout FSA participated in a conference call regarding FSA's request for VSIP. I also had a follow up call with Greg Diephouse DAFO on July 24th.
The agency is estimating that they need to reduce staffing an estimated 1000 FTEs from the original 2013 numbers. The agency indicated that a reduction of about 300 has resulted from the hiring freeze. At the time of the calls VERA numbers were not available and people that have applied for the VERA can decline it up until their separation date. An individual that has been accepted for the VERA can decline it and then apply for the VERA/VSIP if offered.
The agency asked for a VERA/VSIP plan from all Divisions and States in June. The percentage reduction to be planned for was the same for everybody and GS & CO employees. We have learned since the call that the percentage is 8.2%. The agency did not feel that it had adequate ARS data to do anything but make across the board cuts.
The first week in June the national office asked for the opinion of all associations on the VSIP. The NACS members in attendance at our national convention in San Diego had talked about this and were not in favor of the reductions it would make to Farm Loan staff. The following was the reply given to the request.
"NACS does not think that the proposed VERA/VSIP should be open to all employees. GS employees performing Farm Loan Program work should not be allowed the VERA/VSIP. Farm Loan Program funding is projected to increase and the agency has recently introduced the Micro-Loan Program to reach more people with the program. NACS is concerned about maintaining effective delivery and credibility of the program and feels that further reduction ofstaff will have negative consequences."
With encouragement from the national office NACS has a committee working on plans for right sizing and to show the number of employees needed to deliver Farm Loan Programs. After the committee completes their recommendations, the Board will decide how it is best to present it to the National Office. Preliminary ARS data shows that many states are understaffed.
I made the statement to Mr. Diephouse that it appears all they are worried about is reducing numbers and they will worry about service and delivery later. He said that because of budget that is the case.
WHAT CAN WE DO? We all need to get out and tell the story about the effectiveness of our loan programs. Congress will be taking a recess in August so we need to look for opportunities to visit with them. I have asked our NACS Legislative Committee to put together talking points that can be used to help us with this task. The Talking Points will be posted on our website www.nacs-fsa.org with in a week. Remember to make any legislative contacts on your own time.
Have an Unbelievable Day
Allen Hall, NACS President
If you care at all, you'll get some results. If you care enough, you'll get incredible results. - Jim Rohn
Denise is a Farm Loan Manager from Nebraska. She was elected NACS President at the June 2018 Convention.