Site speeds answers to farmers
- By Dan Caterinicchia, Dan Caterinicchia
- Oct 02, 2000
Farm Service Agency home page
The Farm Service Agency plans to announce today that it has added an intelligent
search feature to its nationwide intranet portal, enabling employees to
more quickly answer questions submitted by farmers.
FSA, part of the Agriculture Department, will use RetrievalWare, an
intelligent search system from Excalibur Technologies Corp., to index and
retrieve information via the Internet and intranets. About 18,000 FSA employees
are expected to use the new feature to more quickly gather data to fulfill
research requests from farmers nationwide, said Susan Karr, chief of FSA's
Information Management and Processing Division.
FSA administers services such as farm commodity programs, loans, conservation
programs and emergency assistance.
The search function will enable users to search a range of information
distributed across databases, including text files, HTML documents, relational
databases, word processing and publishing systems, and groupware systems.
"When a farmer comes in with a specific project, [FSA] would have had
to search across five handbooks. Now, the search shows the hits, and they
can just toggle through," Karr said.
FSA used to photocopy and mail agency manuals and handbooks to its 51
main offices. The offices would then photocopy and distribute the documents
to a network of about 2,500 USDA service centers, and if an amendment was
made to a document, another wave of photocopying and mailing would occur.
To date, more than 100 searchable categories have been established,
and 31 handbooks are available on the intranet. About 230 farm and business
handbooks will be available when the project is completed by 2001.