USDA seeks Farm Bill business systems

The Agriculture Department seeks information about applications that can automate farm program business delivery, including eligibility for benefit payments. The software should be able to provide compliance with the Farm Bill and other legislative mandates and make use of USDA’s geospatial and computing technologies.

Customers of USDA’s Farm Service Agency depend on quick access to its program benefits as a safety net to help them weather the challenges of running farms.

Currently, FSA runs a complex suite of 30 program applications that rely on data kept on computers at county-based service centers. This prevents data sharing across program, geographical and organizational boundaries, which impedes FSA’s ability to enforce program eligibility limitations and address regional variances in workload in county offices, according to the request for information posted on FedBizOpps.

The programs authorized through the Farm Bill include direct payments, countercyclical payments, marketing assistance loans, loan deficiency payments, trade assistance payments, emergency/natural-disaster payments and soil/water conservation payments.

FSA is planning to create a parallel, e-government-based, service-delivery channel that will coordinate with traditional service delivery available through county service centers. Modernization will streamline service center processes, centralize and integrate Farm Program data, and use modern technology for Web interface and use USDA’s geospatial technology.

The commercial application also must be able to integrate with the USDA eAuthentication Service, which provides site protection to USDA Web applications. The eAuthentication Service discloses user identity and credential information, such as level of assurance, to the requested application to enable user access.

Responses are due July 28.

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