Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) today convened a hearing of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry, which he chairs in the 111th Congress.
Today's hearing reviewed the state of information technology at the USDA. Testimony was heard from both USDA officials, and farm industry stake holders at the local level. Witnesses included: Chris Smith, Chief Information Officer with the USDA; Jonathan Coppess, Administrator of the Farm Service Agency; Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union; Mike Mayfield with the National Association of Farm Service Agency Office Employees; Craig Turner, President of the National Association of Farmer-Elected Committees; Will Craig, President of the National States Geographic Information Council; and Jim Krosch, Supervisor of the Stevens Soil and Water Conservation District.
Witness testimony made evident that unfortunately, much of the information technology system currently in place at the USDA is extremely outdated. This use of antiquated computer equipment, with some systems as old as 25 years, puts information security at risk, and harms the accurate delivery of critical USDA programs and benefits.
"Efficient and cost-effective information technology programs at USDA are critical to the successful program delivery of literally thousands of nutrition and farm programs," said Rep. Baca. "Today's hearing provided an excellent opportunity to understand the scope of technological problems at the Department, and collaborate on the important steps that must be taken to resolve them. We must work to improve technologies at USDA. The American people deserve a system that promotes better constituent services, prevents program fraud, and serves as a good steward of taxpayer dollars."
Testimony and written statements submitted by the witnesses can be found online on the Committee's website: http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/statements.html.