As part of a continuing effort to build a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that meets the evolving needs of a 21st century agricultural economy, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week informed Congress that in 90 days he plans to approve consolidation of 131 Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices with other USDA service centers, consistent with provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill.
Under the Blueprint for Stronger Service announced on Jan. 9, Vilsack laid out USDA's plans to modernize and accelerate service delivery while improving the customer experience through use of innovative technologies and business solutions. The blueprint included USDA's plan to close 259 domestic offices, facilities and labs, including the proposed closure of 131 FSA offices and seven foreign offices.
Leadership at USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service also announced the closure of 15 of its offices in the United States and five outside the country by the end of September 2012. The affected offices are being closed because the programs they support are ending or changing, or they are being combined with nearby offices.
The blueprint is based on a department-wide review of operations, in which USDA took a hard look at all USDA operations, from headquarters to field offices. The end result is a plan that creates optimal use of USDA's employees, better results for USDA customers and greater efficiencies for American taxpayers.
When fully implemented, these office consolidation actions, along with other recommended changes, will provide efficiencies valued at about $150 million annually and ensure that USDA continues to provide optimal service to the American people within available funding levels.
Detailed information on the Blueprint for Stronger Service can be found at www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=blueprint_for_stronger_service.html.