Click on the High Impact Service Provider below to learn more about the actions they’re taking to improve customer experience and performance of designated services.


About this Service Provider (HISP)

Description

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) serves all farmers, ranchers, and agricultural partners through the delivery of effective, efficient agricultural programs for all Americans. There were 2.02 million U.S. farms in 2020. With 51 state offices and over 2,000 county offices, including offices in U.S. territories, FSA implements farm programs and farm loans to farmers and ranchers across the country. This past year, FSA obligated more than $7.5 billion in direct and guaranteed farm ownership and operating loans, including more than $3.4 billion for beginning farmers, an agency record.


Designated Services


Applying for direct and guaranteed real estate and operating loans to start, maintain and expand a family farm

Service description

The Farm Services Agency (FSA) provides loan making and servicing to underserved and beginner farmers and ranchers; the agency also works with established producers needing credit to maintain or expand operations. Family farmers seek Farm Loans to purchase farmland and finance capital improvements and equipment; pay employees; purchase livestock, feed and seed; and support family living expenses. Customers use farm loans to finance land and water conservation practices, purchase precision agriculture technology and equipment and implement sanitation and pollution reduction. Loan servicing is a critical part of the services provided by Farm Loans and guaranteed lenders for customers to manage their debt and evolving financing needs, whether it is to grow their business, manage fluctuating revenue and input costs, or recover from natural disasters. Customers interact with the Farm Loan Programs through an online informational site, in person at local service centers, or by telephone and email.

Why this service was designated

FSA’s farm loan programs provide credit to farmers and ranchers unable to obtain commercial credit to finance their operations at reasonable rates and terms. During FY2021, the total direct and guaranteed credit provided was $6,670,756,699 provided through 29,051 loans, with a total loan portfolio of $32.4 billion to over 127,000 direct and guaranteed borrowers as of September 30, 2021.


About this Service Provider (HISP)

Description

Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works to end hunger and obesity through the administration of 15 federal nutrition assistance programs including WIC, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and school meals. SNAP helps over 40 million low-income people afford a nutritionally adequate diet; WIC provides nutritious food for about 7 million low-income women, infants, and children; and school breakfast and lunch programs provide free and reduced-price meals to over 20 million low-income children.

This HISP was newly designated and will complete action planning in FY22.

Designated Services


Using WIC food benefits

Service description

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) serves 6.2 million participants, including nearly 45% of all infants in the United States. WIC participants receive a range of health and nutritional support, including Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards or vouchers to purchase nutritious foods to supplement diets at authorized retail vendors. The WIC food packages are scientifically based and provide supplemental foods designed to address the specific nutritional needs of WIC participants. Food packages include foods from categories such as milk, whole grains, eggs, infant formula, and foods prescribed in quantity outlined in federal regulations.

WIC State agencies authorize WIC foods, including the brands and package sizes, following Federal WIC regulations. WIC State agencies consider various factors when determining which foods to authorize, such as price, product availability, and participant acceptance. Most participants transact their WIC benefits at a grocery store that has been authorized by their State agency. To do so, they go into the store, locate the foods included in the balance of their benefits, check out like any other customer, and pay using the WIC EBT card.

Why this service was designated

WIC serves 6.2 million participants, including nearly 45% of all infants in the United States. WIC benefits can currently only be used in person, presenting challenges to families with limited transportation. WIC households are 11% less likely to use a personal vehicle for grocery shopping than non-WIC households. In-person shopping can also present challenges to participants in remote or rural communities and has shown particular challenges during the pandemic. The requirement to redeem benefits in person has been consistently raised as a user pain point in research and usability testing sessions with WIC advocates and participants. Pursuing online ordering in WIC will ensure that WIC participants have access to a broader array of shopping options and are not left behind as the retail grocery industry continues to innovate. Additionally, online purchasing in the related Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has become increasingly available over the past several years, with 6% of all SNAP benefit transactions conducted online in December 2021. Online WIC transactions will enable a combined shopping experience for participants transacting SNAP and WIC benefits.


About this Service Provider (HISP)

Description

The Forest Service works to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands, which includes sustainable stewardship of more than 600 million acres of forestland, 193 million acres of public lands, and more than 400 million acres of private land across the United States.

This HISP was reporting for recreation.gov in previous years. They will complete action planning in FY22.

Designated Services


Getting a recreation special use permit

Service description

The Special Use program is a complex program that is critical to the customer experience, provides multiple public benefits, and supports effective mission delivery. Attaining a special use permit allows the public to enjoy additional benefits of public land visitation beyond normal recreational use. Applying for these permits can be a confusing process, especially for historically undeserved communities that lack familiarity with the permit process and pre-existing relationships with their local Ranger District or a Forest Supervisor Office location. Our strategic vision has been to make it easier for the American people to use and enjoy their national forests and grasslands by reducing the regulatory burden for applicants and providing online access to popular permit types. While we have gained efficiencies over the past several years through our modernization efforts, the work continues. Recreation special use permits enable private sector professionals, nonprofits, and educational institutions to lead a range of activities on National Forest System lands, from whitewater rafting, downhill skiing, horseback riding, weddings, family reunions, and big game hunting to youth education trips in the wilderness and scenic jeep tours. For many, these activities represent their first introduction to the outdoors, and the outfitters and guides they employ are often small businesses that generate jobs and income for local communities. Forest Service permit holders help connect Americans to their natural world and help restore mental health and maintain healthy lifestyles.

Why this service was designated

Barriers to obtaining recreation special use permits (e.g., outfitting and guiding, Campground concession, and recreation event permits) are one challenge that can limit valuable economic stimulus in communities of color and socially vulnerable communities. Based on recent workshops and data assessments conducted in support of EO 13985, the Forest Service does not always solicit applicants or advertise when recreation special use permits become available. As a result, existing permit holders are more likely to retain and obtain special use permits, and other groups and individuals may never know when new special use permits become available. When these groups and individuals become aware of permit availability, navigating the application process requires knowledge that socially vulnerable communities have difficulty accessing, putting them at a further disadvantage.

Recreation on National Forest System lands is an important economic driver that contributes more than $13.5 billion to America’s gross domestic product and supports more than 161,000 full and part-time jobs. The Forest Service administers over 30,000 recreation special use authorizations, including 122 ski area permits and over 8,000 outfitter and guide permits. These activities generate nearly $2 billion to the permit holders. This would not be possible without the recreation assets managed by the Forest Service, including over 150,000 miles of trails, the largest trail network in the nation, and ski areas that host over 60% of the country’s ski area visits.


About this Service Provider (HISP)

Description

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works with farmers, ranchers and forest landowners across the country to help them boost agricultural productivity and protect our natural resources through conservation In 2020, NRCS worked with producers to develop more than 100,000 conservation plans as well as place conservation practices and enhancements on more than 19 million acres.


Designated Services


Applying for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Service description

This voluntary conservation program helps producers make conservation work for them. Together, the Natural resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and producers invest in solutions that conserve natural resources for the future while also improving agricultural operations. NRCS provides agricultural producers technical assistance through the conservation planning process to develop a plan to address resource concerns and capture environmental benefits. Based on this plan, the EQIP provides agricultural producers with financial resources and one-on-one help to design and implement improvements, or what NRCS calls conservation practices. Using these practices can create environmental benefits that extend well beyond the farm while improving agricultural operations.

Why this service was designated

EQIP advances the voluntary application of conservation practices to promote agricultural production, forest management, and environmental quality as compatible uses. Conservation practices funded through EQIP help producers improve the condition of soil, water, air, and other natural resources. The program assists owners and operators of agricultural and forest land with the identification of natural resource problems and opportunities in their operation and provides assistance to solve identified problems in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner.

In fiscal year 2021, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) committed over $1.26 billion in conservation solutions for 11,669,153 acres treated. This was delivered to 34,054 program participants. Conservation practices funded through EQIP contracts generate benefits beyond the specific recipient’s land, including improved grazing lands, improved air quality, enhanced fish and wildlife habitat, sustainable plant and soil conditions, improved water quality and quantity, reduced soil erosion, and energy conservation.


About this Service Provider (HISP)

Description

Recreation.gov provides a gateway to discover our nation's hidden treasures and engage in timeless outdoor recreation and cultural activities. 21,000,000+ users, reserve experiences at over 4,200 facilities and 113,000 individual sites across the country.


Designated Services


Reserving a campsite on Recreation.gov

Service description

Recreation.gov users are predominantly domestic with 98 percent of all sessions conducted within the United States. Visitors to Recreation.gov often seek inspiration for a trip, research destinations, learn about details for a successful visit, and make reservations. Camping provides an authentic and immersive experience within public land and water destinations across the country. These experiences influence how visitors value these public spaces and can lead to a lifetime of connection and stewardship.

Why this service was designated

Campsite reservations represent more than 60 percent of all reservations made on the Recreation.gov platform. For FY21 there were more than 9 million reservations made on Recreation.gov, and 4.03 million of those were campsite reservations.

Reserving a timed-entry ticket or vehicle reservation

Service description

Timed-entry tickets for popular destinations was a new service introduced in June 2020 to help agencies and locations re-open to the public after being closed due to the COVID pandemic.

Why this service was designated

Following the initial COVID-related reason for rolling out this service, several other locations have adopted timed-entry tickets and at the end of FY21, more than 1.7 million timed ticket reservations were made by Recreation.gov users. Timed tickets allow for local managers to offer reserved times throughout the day for visitors to access a park or forest location and help to minimize crowding and congestion.


About this Service Provider (HISP)

Description

Nearly 60 million Americans live in rural areas and experience higher rates of poverty; since 2009, Rural Development has financed nearly 8,000 community facilities projects, helped save or create more than 375,000 rural jobs, aided nearly 75,000 rural businesses, improved rural electric infrastructure for more than 25 million rural residents, and supported more than 5,500 distance learning and telemedicine projects.

This HISP was newly designated and will complete action planning in FY22.

Designated Services


Filing an application under the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative

Service description

The OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative (launched in 2020) provides government-backed loans through commercial lenders to rural small business owners, agricultural producers, community organizations, utility providers, or municipalities seeking financing to develop a project and who may have challenges securing a loan without a guarantee. At times, borrowers are the first to hear about the OneRD Guarantee program and contact local Rural Development (RD) staff or the OneRD inbox for additional information. They then share this information with a local, community-based lender who partners with the borrower to secure a loan and USDA-RD guarantee. The OneRD initiative provides a streamlined and standardized application process for lenders to access four of RD’s flagship loan programs: Business and Industry (B&I) Guaranteed Loan Program; Community Facilities (CF) Guaranteed Loan Program; Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Loan Guarantees; and Water and Waste Disposal (WWD) Loan Guarantees Programs.

Why this service was designated

Rural Development annually issues over $2 billion in loan guarantees that increase private investment in rural businesses and economic development projects through the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative. In addition to supporting rural communities and individuals through direct loan and grants offered under the CF, REAP, and WWD programs, the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative offers an opportunity for RD to partner with private lenders, expanding the reach and accessibility of the four RD loan programs.

Searching for information on a Rural Development program

Service description

RD offers a digital library of regulatory information that spans all of its 40+ programs. Many customer groups – potential applicants, award recipients, technical assistance providers, Federal partners, and even RD employees use this library to see the breadth of programs offered, understand eligibility and competitive program criteria points, research requirements to comply with award conditions (such as reporting, audit and accounting guidelines, engineering specifications), and view notices and rulemaking actions posted in the Federal Register.

Why this service was designated

RD’s grant, loan, loan guarantee, and technical assistance programs meet the needs of communities across rural America. However, RD’s customers have regularly identified understanding and knowing where to find information on regulatory requirements for RD programs as a common pain point felt across all aspects of the customer journey (e.g., program awareness, application process, and award reporting requirements). In Fiscal Year 2021, this webpage had 57,677 page views (49,533 of which were unique individual views). Building a more customer-focused, simple, streamlined digital repository to learn about program grant or loan eligibility requirements, how applications will be evaluated, and what follow-on requirements are required to be in good standing with grant or loan conditions will help to address complexity identified across programs.