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
LeAnn is a Farm Loan Chief from New Mexico. She was elected NACS President at the June 2019 Convention.